By Niall O'Connell
A massive domestic world title collision has been confirmed today, as WBO cruiserweight world champion Lawrence Okolie will defend his crown against hometown hero Chris Billam Smith at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.
Okolie will be having a quick turnaround for this one, having just defended his belt for the third time against Australias David Light at the end of March, coming out of that one relatively unscathed and allowing for him to jump straight back into camp for another defence against fellow Englishman Billam Smith.
A former Team GB Olympian, Okolie [19-0, 14 KO’s] turned professional back in 2017, and has had a stellar career in the paid ranks already, picking up British, Commonwealth and European straps at cruiserweight, before he topped it off by claiming the WBO world title against the tough Polish fighter Krzysztof Glowacki in London in 2021. Defences have followed against Dilan Prasovic, Michal Cieslak and most recently David Light, and now, if he can navigate the examination of the very capable Billam Smith, he will seek to secure massive unification bouts with the rest of the belt holders at 200lbs.
Billam Smith [17-1, 12 KO’s] has been on a highly impressive run through the cruiserweight ranks. Since losing a split decision to another domestic rival Richard Riakporhe in 2019, the Bournemouth native has largely mirrored the trajectory of Okolie, winning British, Commonwealth and European titles while racking up victories against the likes of Tommy McCarthy on two occasions, and Isaac Chamberlain along the way. Last time out, back in December, Billam Smith produced a stunning highlight reel knockout against Armend Xhoxhaj to perfectly set him up for his maiden world title tilt against Okolie.
Also on the card, unbeaten Mikael Lawal [17-0, 11 KO’s] will make the first defence of his British cruiserweight title he won back in December, when he faces former Okolie and Billam Smith foe Isaac Chamberlain [14-2, 8 KO’s].