Newly crowned WBO world junior heavyweight champion Chris Billam-Smith was prepared for Lawrence Okoli’s mind games.
Last Saturday night in Bournemouth, Billam-Smith made a shock comeback when he defeated Okolie three times and secured a twelve-round decision win to claim the WBO title.
When the result was announced, the 15,000-strong crowd at Vitality Stadium exploded.
Billam-Smith, although a big ticket-seller at home, was a contender and as such had to make the first ring walk.
Okolie was in no hurry to go out for his own ringside walk, but Billam-Smith was prepared for this tactic by layering his robe with fleece.
“I’ve prepared for it. I have a fleece lined robe. I was sponsored for this event. They sent me the material they use for their fleece. I had a feeling he might be able to, given that the fight is outside. I thought we’d put some fleece lining in this robe. So the boys sent her (robe) to us. Greetings to Sophie from FightLabel. I was warm in there, which I expected,” Billam-Smith told The Daily Mail.
“I even told Shane in the ring when he was taking his time and I looked at the screen and they were struggling to get him out, I said ‘as expected’. So yes. You must be prepared for all eventualities. It’s easier to expect the worst and expect him to keep me waiting. So no, I was very calm.
Okolie is also well known for his striking then holding tactics. In the past, he was punished for excessive holding. The Billam-Smith fight was no different.
The referee repeatedly warned and deducted two points from Okolie for excessive holding.
“(Holding was) irritating. I think the referee did a really good job. Lawrence has always done this in the past. This became more and more obvious as he would sometimes fail to hit from behind. dip and hold,” said Billam-Smith.
“I didn’t move. I tried to keep my hands on the inside to prove it wasn’t me. We knew Lawrence would do it and I could have denied it more often, but it was to be expected.”
A rematch between the two is likely and Okolie will have the option of invoking the immediate rematch clause.