Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith tale of the tape – where the cruiserweight world title fight will be won and lost
LAWRENCE OKOLIE and Chris Billam-Smith will put friendship aside when the WBO cruiserweight title goes on the line.
The former sparring partners clash at Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium on Saturday night.
Okolie, 30, defends his title but does so behind enemy lines against Cherries fan and hometown hero Billam-Smith, 32.
The pair were once training partners under esteemed British trainer Shane McGuigan.
But after Okolie left the camp, it opened the door for the friends to turn foes in the ring.
The 2016 Olympian laboured to a points win over David Light in his March return bout but wanted a quick turnaround.
So when Billam-Smith was searching for an opponent to welcome to his beloved Bournemouth stadium, Okolie was raring to go.
The champion comes into the bout with an unbeaten 19-0 record and has 14 knockouts to go with it.
Whereas Billam-Smith has been beaten once before in his 18, to Richard Riakporhe, 33, by split-decision in 2019.
Okolie at 6ft 5in carries a two inch height advantage and is one of the hardest punchers not only at cruiserweight but in the world.
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And most notably, he has a 82+1⁄2 inch reach compared to Billam-Smith’s 75 inch range.
The fight makes for a good clash of styles, with Okolie preferring to box at range, using his length to let off his big right hand.
Whereas Billam-Smith finds a lot of success at mid and close range, tucking in his elbows with a tight guard and letting combinations fly.
If the challenger is to have success in the bout, he needs to close the distance and overwhelm Okolie with flurries.
For the champion, he will look to keep the fight long, use his jab to set up the right hand and spoil on the inside when needed.
But after 300 rounds of sparring between them, it remains to be seen whether the two will open up having known each other so well.
Chris Billam-Smith and Lawrence Okolie are former sparring partners
BOXXER / Lawrence LustigLawrence Okolie, promoter Ben Shalom and Chris Billam-Smith[/caption]