Boxing: Billam-Smith Stuns Okolie, Wins Cruiserweight World Title
British boxer Chris Billam-Smith secured a vital victory as he upset Lawrence Okolie to win the WBO cruiserweight world title in his Bournemouth hometown, at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England.
Billam-Smith dropped Okolie to the canvas three times and with two point deductions going against the Londoner, won a majority decision. The fight was filled with explosive punching, knockdowns, warnings and all round action in front of 15,000 fans.
The champion Okolie started quickly, throwing punches at Billam-Smith. Okolie was using his physicality, landing punches at Billam-Smith with his strength. He clipped him with short rights too.
However, Billam-Smith ignited the fight with a fourth-round left hook which took Okolie off his feet. The Londoner had to retreat, he needed to clinch. But that saw him deducted a point in the fifth round and Billam-Smith had engineered a huge turnaround.
The champion steadied himself behind bombing right hands but he kept on clinching, so much so that he had another point taken off by referee Marcus McDonnell in the seventh round. Okolie continued to attack viciously, knowing that he needed to land big shots to bring momentum back his way.
But as he rushed forward, a left that appeared more to get him off-balance saw Okolie stumble forward. The referee gave it as a knockdown against him.
Okolie’s tried to find a way back into the fight and became desperate but no less dangerous for it, only for Billam-Smith to catch him on the end of another left hook and put the champion down in the 11th round for a third time.
“I was in there, he was doing a lot of good stuff and got a good knockdown which changed the momentum,” Okolie said after the fight.
“I love being the winner and the champion, I have to take my hat off to him, he did very good work. We’re going to run it back. I trained really hard because I know what Chris is made of.”
“Today is his night, I might be down but I’m definitely not out. This was Chris at his very best. I can adapt to a loss, I’ll be back again,” Okolie added.
💥AND NEW, Congrats to the new WBO Jr. Heavyweight World Champion 🇬🇧 Chris Billiam-Smith, who defeated Lawrence Okolie, by majority decision at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth, England. pic.twitter.com/AsvrXizhQj
— WBO (@WorldBoxingOrg) May 27, 2023