WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie (19-0, 14 KOs) weighed in at 199 lbs on Friday for arguably his toughest title defense yet against Chris Billiam-Smith (17-1, 12 KOs) this Saturday, May 27th, at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England.
The 32-year-old Billiam-Smith also weighed in at 199 lbs for his fight against Okolie, which will be shown on FITE+ in the U.S. and on Sky Sports in the UK.
It’s vital that the 6’5″ Okolie not only win but to entertain because he was booed in his last title defense against David Light last March. The style of fighting that Okolie is being taught by his trainer SugarHill Steward is less than eye-pleasing, involving a lot of holding & leaning and not much offense.
It’s the style that Sugarhill has taught WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. For fans to enjoy that method of fighting, they’ve got to be patient.
Lawrence Okolie 199 vs. Chris Billam-Smith 199
Sam Eggington 153 vs. Joe Pigford 153
Kariss Artingstall 125 vs. Jade Taylor 128
Lee Cutler 153 vs. Stanley Stannard 153
Michael McKinson 148 vs. Lebin Morales 146
Isaac Chamberlain 199 vs. Daniel Bocianksi 196
Mace Ruegg 136 vs. Dean Dodge 136
Lewis Edmonson 181 vs. Petar Nosic 181
Tommy Welch 222 vs. Amine Boucetta 224
Alireza Ghadiri 127 vs. Jonatas Rodrigo Gomes de Oliveira 130
“He wouldn’t have gotten any confidence from the sparring. It would be from [trainer] Shane [McGuigan], saying, ‘Lawrence, trust me. Lawrence, he might be bigger & stronger, but he ain’t got what you got,'” said Lawrence Okolie to iFL TV.
“I think he’s going to be game,” continued Okolie about Billiam-Smith. “I think he’s going to work particular tactics, and I think he’ll come unstuck. I can’t see myself being susceptible to drifting away from my right hand.
“I just had a fight with David [Light], and he did that, and I worked on that. I can’t expect him to get inside and land body shots because I don’t hold my feet. There are loads of simple decisions I make. A simple answer is I’m going to win.
“Yes, but not at the detriment of winning the fight,” said Okolie when asked if he wanted to entertain the boxing fans so he’s not booed like he was in his last contest against David Light. “I think this fight will be won on my strengths.
“You have to come up with some kind of narrative to feed your fighter to tell them, ‘You can do this.’ I’m not going to talk about what Shane said to me about the sparring with Chris and all that kind of stuff.
“All that stuff they pump into them to build their confidence, what happens? We fight, and we’re going to find out if I’m a weak guy and not that good Chris is better.’ All of these things. We’re going to find out.
“I can sit here like I have for the last few minute and talk, but we’re going to fight. Anything that I have to say is going to have to be backed up, and anything they say, they’re going to have to try and back up.
“A, I’m getting paid, and secondly, why shouldn’t you box anyone anywhere,” said Okolie when asked why he’s fighting in Billiam-Smith’s backyard. “I wanted to go to Latvia to fight Briedis. I wanted to go fight former champion Lebedev. For years, opportunities haven’t been there for me to fight abroad.
“It’s just been, ‘Lawrence, you’re boxing here at the O2’ or whatever. So for me, I can’t be the king of any ring; what’s the point? It depends on the manner that I win the fight. If I win it emphatically and they say, ‘You can fight again in a few months,’ then I’ll strongly consider it. If not, I just don’t know. I take it one performance at a time,” said Okolie.