Shane McGuigan says he will prepare a plan to beat “the best cruiserweight on the planet” when he takes on his former fighter Lawrence Okolie with Chris Billam-Smith on May 27
Sky Sports reports that Lawrence Okolie will put his WBO cruiserweight world title on the line against Chris Billam-Smith in Bournemouth on May 27, live on Sky Sports.
Shane McGuigan – trainer of Billam-Smith and formerly in Okolie’s corner – says: “We will devise a plan to beat him”
Okolie will put his WBO cruiserweight title on the line against Billam-Smith next month in his former training partner’s hometown of Bournemouth, live on Sky Sports.
The pair both worked under McGuigan until Okolie joined up with SugarHill Steward, and the trainer says he knows from experience how much more the champion has to offer than he showed in a workmanlike points win over David Light in Manchester last month.
“I don’t think it was the best performance, but we’re not preparing for that,” McGuigan said. “We’re preparing for the best Lawrence Okolie and that’s the one that I feel was in my gym for the last three years.
“He’s got multiple strengths. He’s six foot five, with a six foot nine reach. Can punch with either hand. He’s physical. He’s athletic.
“I believe he is the best cruiserweight on the planet right now, but for every strength there’s a weakness and we will devise a plan to beat him.”
There was plenty of respect between Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam-Smith as they went head to head at the press conference ahead of their fight on May 27
Okolie’s defense against Light marked a return to the ring after more than a year out, and with a new trainer in his corner in Steward.
With the ring rust shaken off, he expects to be ready for Billam-Smith – and a fight with an extra personal dimension.
“I’m coming and I mean really coming because this is bigger than just me and Chris,” Okolie said. “Obviously there is Shane there as well, a great coach who helped me win a world title, so there’s so much at stake on a personal level for me as well.
“In the same way they will be training hard, I will be doing even more to show them who I am.”
Billam-Smith has fast acquired a reputation for being one of the most exciting fighters in Britain. He has won British, Commonwealth and European cruiserweight titles. With an impassioned crowd in Bournemouth roaring him on, in 2022 he beat Isaac Chamberlain in a Fight of the Year contender and levelled Armend Xhoxhaj to record a spectacular knockout win.
Facing someone who he respects so much holds no fear.
“I like Lawrence, he is a funny guy, but he’s got something I want,” he said. “I think we probably did over 300 rounds sparring together. They were learning curves for both of us. We both learned a lot sparring and we both built ourselves up to world-level fighters, by doing plenty of other work as well, but also the work we did with each other.
“That’s why this makes for an exciting fight. No one that’s boxed Lawrence has done as many rounds with him as I have. I don’t fear anyone.”