By Mark Eisner: The big punching lanky 6’5″ Lawrence Okolie (19-0, 14 KOs) defends his WBO cruiserweight title tonight against the tough Chris Billiam-Smith (17-1, 12 KOs) in a fight that should be exciting for as long as it lasts at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth . The Okolie-Billiam Smith card will be shown live on FITE+ at 2:00 pm ET, and it’ll also be televised on Sky Sports in the UK.
Boxing New 24 will give updates below.
- Female featherweight Karriss Artingstall (4-0) beat Jade Taylor (5-1) by an eight round referee decision. The score was 79-72.
- Junior middleweight Lee Cutler (13-1, 7 KOs) defeated previously unbeaten Stanley Stannard (10-1, 4 KOs) by a 10 round points decision. The referee’s score was 97-95.
- Welterweight contender Michael McKinson (25-1, 4 KOs) defeated Lebin Morales (19-7-1, 9 KOs) by seventh round knockout. Referee Kieran McCann halted the fight at 1:25 of round seven.
Okolie last fought in March, defeating David Light by a one-sided 12 round decision. Okolie, 30, is admirable to return to the ring so soon. He could move up to heavyweight after this fight if he looks impressive against Billiam-Smith.
Lawrence Okolie vs. Chris Billiam-Smith
Lee Cutler vs. Stanley Stannard
Sam Eggington vs. Joe Pigford
Michael McKinson vs. Lebin Morales
Isaac Chamberlain vs. Daniel Bocianksi
Mace Ruegg vs. Dean Dodge
Lewis Edmonson vs. Petar Nosic
Tommy Welch vs. Amine Boucetta
Alireza Ghadiri vs. Jonatas Rodrigo Gomes de Oliveira
Okolie presents an awkward style for Billiam-Smith
“He’s coming with intent. Obviously, he wants a knockout,” said trainer Shane McGuigan to Secondsout about Lawrence Okolie. “I think the first half of the fight wasn’t necessarily a bad fight for the first five or six rounds, but then it kind of lapsed into the old Lawrence.
“The last one was an awkward opponent. David Light didn’t come to engage, and he fell into the old habits. He didn’t have a long time with SugarHill, so you’ve got to give him a bit of slack. He obviously went straight back into camp.
“I think it’s going to benefit him being active. I’ve not seen anything really specifically. He’s [Okolie] here to do a job, and I think he wants to impress.
“Lawrence has a very good style, but it’s an awkward style, so it’s kind of awkward to coach. It’s not like the Adam Azims or the Caroline Dubois of this world where you can sort of work on specific things. He’s not as coordinated as them.
“What he does have is fantastic attributes. He’s got a six-foot nine-inch reach and has got great strength, very good punching power, and a winning mentality. There’s always a star quality in a champion. You can’t be a champion and be basic all around.
“You might have weaknesses and flaws in your game, but you’ll always have an excelling trait. With Lawrence, it’s his physicality, and sometimes he relies on it too much.
“We spent three and a half years working together to try and get him to stick out at that range a little bit longer, and he can do it in sparring. After four or five rounds, if they’re still alive and punching back, he always falls into a pattern.
“This fight I think is going to be different. Not necessarily because of SugarHill. I think it’s going to be different because Chris knows he can’t fight there all the time. Even though Chris gets a lot of success in that close range, we’re going to have to come up with a different game plan.
“My whole ethos is to do my best I can with someone while they’re in the gym. This gym is a revolving door. It’s seen as that because I’m quite a high-profile coach. So people can see the fighters come and go.
“If you look at most gyms, even the amateur gyms, people move on all the time. So for me, I just do as good as I can with them.
“I’ve been involved in high-pressure fights with Chris Billiam-Smith. We’ve had the Riakporhe fight, and Tommy McCarthy two fights. He’s had those high-pressure situations.
“I don’t see that much of a difference between him fighting for a world title in Bournemouth than fighting Isaac Chamberlain. It’s all the same, really. The nerve are always going to be there. Boxing is an industry where if you have one loss and people completely write you off.
“So you are constantly defending that status. So that in itself comes with huge pressure,” said Shane.