Exclusive Interview: Lawrence Okolie Reveals All Ahead Of His Fight With Chris Billam-Smith

Lawrence Okolie squares off against Chris Billam-Smith on May 27th, 2023, in order to defend his WBO cruiserweight title.

The Brit is undefeated in his 19 fights as he looks to follow up on his last win over David Light.

This was his third defense of the title as he gears up to face Billam-Smith, who is in good form. The latter knocked out Armend Xhoxhaj in his last fight, as a WBO title is now in sight.

With that being said, this is what Okolie had to say during an exclusive interview with FIGHTSPORTS.

Key Quotes

On the quick turn around since his last fight: “I think, you know, I had a long time out of the ring, so I wanted to get back in, shake off the ring rust and just really get back to doing what I love , which is boxing.

“You just wanna keep yourself active, keep yourself with a lot of momentum, go from there.”


On his approach to the fight: “[It] doesn’t really have much of a bearing [that we know each other].

“How people perform on the day is the most important thing. So I’m just gonna take nothing from it and just expect the unexpected really.”


On his camp: “[I am] probably [training] a little bit more intelligently. Because, you know, I know he trains hard…So that’s probably the only change. I know that conditioning is going to be important in this fight.


On sparring Billam-Smith: “Well, the wonderful thing about sparring is it takes two people to tango, so he knows me better than anyone else. And I must know him better than anyone else. So you know, we’ll see.”

On being friends: “I actually think he’s a good person. If I’m honest with you, in terms of us being friends no. As I said I realized you know, you got married I wasn’t invited to the wedding…You know I didn’t get a birthday present or birthday cards.

“I didn’t send him one so we’re not like going out and eating together… But in the gym you know we enjoy each other’s company I guess.

“And you know I helped him along and you know he had a small part to play in my development as well so you know, I’ve got respect for him but in terms of us being friends not really.”

On hugging Billam-Smith: “He asked for it so I thought you know..we’re not fighting tomorrow so I can give him a hug why not?”

On ignoring their friendship: “That’s quite easy when someone’s throwing punches at you to kind of forget you know what they are like as a person. You’re just interested in winning a fight.”

On a knockout: “I think I’m gonna actually just see what happens. I’m not really focused on stopping him. I’m focused on winning by a large margin.

“So the largest margin is obviously knocking someone out. The next best thing is a unanimous decision and then there’s only two things I can see happening to be fair.”


On Billam-Smith saying he improved: “I don’t care. It wouldn’t matter to me. I’m not training based on him being not that good, but I’m training very hard.”

On his future plans: “Try to be a dad I think. I think it’s about time to start having kids settling down, opening up a few more businesses and just you know, trying to really cement my financial future after boxing.

“Obviously I don’t anticipate retiring anytime soon but boxing is that kind of sport. So those are going to be my main goals.

“And then in terms of actually boxing, there’s going to be like unifications if they’re available, if not then just whatever fights present themselves.”

On his legacy: “I’m just being a smart boxer taking very little damage, dishing out a lot of damage. Obviously I’ve defended my belt three times, this will be number four.

“So maybe one or two more defenses from unifications and then make an assault on the heavyweight division…Pick up maybe the Bridgerweight world title and then the heavyweight world title. So that would be three.

And with that mindset in place, Okolie has vowed to overpower Billam-Smith, going so far as to state that he will ‘devastate’ him.

While that may be the case, Billam-Smith has talked up his chances of beating Okolie. He cited his intention to land on the elusive Okolie in an attempt to break him down.

“Lawrence is difficult to land on, but you’ve got to find a way to hit him and keep hitting him clean.

“Not many have really hit Lawrence clean and if they have hit him, it’s usually one shot.

“So, the game plan is to find a way to nail him and nail him continuously. Keep landing shots, that’s when I think he’ll unravel,” Billam-Smith

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