‘Mum, this is for you!’: Emotional Chris Billam-Smith dedicates his stunning world-title win over Lawrence Okolie to his mother battling breast cancer, as he reveals he was ‘sick in bed all week’ before beating his former stablemate at the Vitality
- Billam-Smith knocked Okolie down three times in a stunning performance
- The Bournemouth man claimed WBO cruiserweight title via majority decision
- After his victory, Billam-Smith dedicated it to his mum as she fights cancer
Chris Billam-Smith knocked Lawrence Okolie down three times on his way to becoming world cruiserweight champion on Saturday night – and dedicated the victory to his mother battling breast cancer.
The contest often proved a frustrating one to watch – with Okolie docked points for excessive holding on two occasions – yet it was in the fourth round when his championship defence began to unravel.
After lunging in and missing with a left hook, the Hackney man was sent tumbling to the canvas for the first time in his career after Billam-Smith responded with the very same shot, an astonishing moment which set the tone for the rest of the fight.
Okolie then had points taken in the fifth and seventh rounds, before suffering two more knockdowns in the 10th and 11. However, replays appeared to suggest the first was more of a slip.
Chris Billam-Smith became world cruiserweight champion at the Vitality Stadium on Saturday
Billam-Smith knocked Lawrence Okolie down three times before prevailing on the scorecards
And when the final bell sounded at the Vitality Stadium, Billam-Smith was crowned world champion via majority decision (112-112, 115-108, 116-107).
The Bournemouth fighter was initially lost for words after fulfilling a lifelong dream of triumphing at his team’s stadium, but he went on to dedicate it to his mum after revealing she is currently fighting breast cancer, while also claiming he was left bed-bound due to illness all week leading up to the bout.
‘I dunno what’s just happened,’ he told Sky Sports. ‘My whole life’s just gone so quick up to this moment and I have no words. This is perfect, there’s nothing more.
‘Against a great champion in Lawrence, a friend who has never looked close to getting beat, he’s given me a very, very hard 12 rounds there. It wasn’t the most entertaining fight but that’s what Lawrence is so effective at. But I believe I did enough to win it and I think the scorecards showed that.
‘It’s crazy, I was sick in bed all week. I didn’t eat from Tuesday to Thursday. I mean, it was easy making weight! But I had no energy and I just had to put on a brave face at the workout on Wednesday and then did a presser on Thursday. But I was sick in bed all week.
‘And I just wanna dedicate this to my mum, who’s got breast cancer at the moment. Mum, this is for you! I love you so much!’
While Billam-Smith has catapulted himself to the top of the division, Okolie is reeling from his first defeat as a professional, ending his 18-fight winning run.
Okolie was docked points on two occasions for excessive holding in a frustrating contest
The 30-year-old congratulated his former team-mate before vowing to come again
The 30-year-old, who trained alongside Billam-Smith for four years before leaving Shane McGuigan at the end of 2022, was quick to congratulate his old team-mate while vowing to come again.
‘I was in there, he was doing a lot of good stuff and got a good knockdown which changed the momentum,’ Okolie said.
‘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.’