Lawrence Okolie LOSES his WBO cruiserweight belt as he is dropped THREE times by Chris Billam-Smith and deducted two points in Bournemouth battering at the Vitality Stadium
- Lawrence Okolie has lost his WBO cruiserweight title against Chris Billam-Smith
- The underdog emerged victorious as he proved too much for Okolie to handle
- Okolie was knocked down three times in a convincing win for Billam-Smith
Lawrence Okolie knew he was the favourite heading into Saturday’s fight and looked to assert his dominance from the moment he was called to the ring. But, it wasn’t enough to stop Chris Billam-Smith.
The Bournemouth boy beat Okolie via majority decision to claim the WBO cruiserweight world title in front of 15,000 fans at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday evening – with judges scoring the bout 112-112, 116-107, 115-108.
However, it wasn’t the fight Billam-Smith was hoping for and the fact one judge scored the contest 112-112 is beyond me. Billam-Smith was the clear winner having dominated the fight and knocked Okolie down three times.
The Sauce, who was looking to extend his professional record to 20-0 and defend his WBO cruiserweight title for a fourth time, was also deducted two points for excessive holding – making the 112-112 score unheard of.
Immediately after being crowned the new WBO champion, Billam-Smith said it ‘wasn’t the most exciting fight’ but admitted he was happy nonetheless – especially given the week he’s had.
Chris Billam-Smith producing a convincing performance to beat Lawrence Okolie and claim the WBO cruiserweight title
Okolie (right) was knocked down three times by Billam-Smith during the encounter at the Vitality
Okolie (right) struggled to deal with the power and timing of Billam-Smith’s shots
Billam-Smith revealed he was ‘sick in bed all week’ and went on to dedicate his fight to his mum who is battling breast cancer. He said: ‘I have no idea what’s just happened. My whole life has gone so quick and come to this moment, it’s just perfect. There’s nothing more.
‘Against a great champion and a close friend in Lawrence, who has never looked close to getting beaten, he’s given me a very very hard 12 rounds. I believe I did enough to win it, I believe the scorecards show that.
‘I was sick in bed all week, I didn’t eat from Tuesday to Thursday, I managed to put on a brave face, I just want to dedicate this to my mum who has breast cancer at the minute. Mum, this is for you, I love you so much.’
Billam-Smith and Okolie may be friends outside of the ring but there was nothing friendly about their bout on Saturday evening. The Sauce made that clear by leaving Billam-Smith waiting in the ring ahead of their fight.
Billam-Smith took to the ring first after an epic journey to the canvas. However, Okolie refused to leave the dressing room and kept the Gentleman waiting – marking the first of his many mind games.
Okolie’s tactics clearly worked as he started the contest well – fighting on the front foot and looking to give the fans a more exciting bout than his clash with David Light last month.
The 30-year-old came close to buckling Billam-Smith in the first round and the pair’s exchanges in the opening three left Bournemouth fans watching through their fingers.
However, Billam-Smith caught the defending champion with a right-hand and sent him tumbling to the canvas in the fourth. Thing went rapidly downhill for Okolie after that as he was deducted a point in the fifth for excessive holding and another point in the seventh.
Okolie was furious with the decision from referee Marcus McDonnell and started throwing explosive right-hands to push for a knockout. However, his desire to finish the contest early saw him lose balance more often than not and grab onto his opponent.
Okolie (left) was deducted two points at separate times in the bout for excessive holding
Billam-Smith (left) celebrated his WBO cruiserweight victory with his partner after the fight
Billam-Smith managed to put Okolie down for a third time in the 11th round before riding out the 12th to become the new WBO cruiserweight champion.
Speaking immediately after the fight, Okolie said: ‘I was in there, he was doing a lot of good stuff and got a good knockdown which changed the momentum.
‘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.’