THE power of Lawrence Okolie could determine the chances of Chris Billam-Smith in their fight on Saturday night and CBS knows exactly what tactics to use.
“The game plan throughout the whole fight for all 12 rounds has got to be don’t get hit clean. So, the concentration levels [have] got to be high,” Billam-Smith told Boxing News during a recent sit-down interview.
Easier said than done. Okolie carries crushing punch power when his technique comes together. The 19 fights in his career have ended inside the distance 14 times. In his last two fights, however, Okolie has gone a full 24 rounds with Michael Cieslak and David Light. The explosiveness was missing.
“A lot of people with Lawrence walk him down, put the pressure on,” said Billam-Smith who sparred hundreds of rounds with Okolie during their time training together under Shane McGuigan.
“There’s a lot of a lot of facets to it, I think, of the way you’ve got to approach it. I’ve obviously got the experience being in there and the experience of his former coach in Shane knowing how to do certain things. I think the game plan against Lawrence is don’t get hit because then he starts sapping you, whether that’s his holding, but the punches will sap you as well.”
Okolie left Shane McGuigan to team up with Sugar Hill, who also trains Tyson Fury and Ben Whittaker.
Hill’s first fight with Okolie came against Light in April. The British cruiserweight came in for an avalanche of criticism from all corners of the sport following his performance. It had been expected that Okolie’s power would have been one of many advantages that the 30-year-old would have used to turn Light’s chances off.
“He’s got more power actually when he’s not trying. When he does try it really ain’t that hard,” Hill admitted to BN.
“So, the object is just to keep him loose and free and he’s gonna punch harder than ever. A lot of times it’s the punch that you don’t see and those are the ones that catch you and hurt you.
“He’s physically strong though. When he tries to throw the hard punches, they don’t come off as hard as he thought they were going to be. I feel that on the mitts and that’s partially why I do give pad work because I want to make sure that I’m able to feel the punches as if I was the opponent. So, if I’m feeling it really hard through the mitts and I know that it’s really hard on somebody else.”
For Okolie he knows better than anyone how hard he can hit. He has seen the faces of those when he connects. He also admits that the main thing is to win and as much as he wants to be an entertaining fighter all that matters is victory. Criticism is just noise to Okolie.
“The only reason why we’re here now because I’ve kept winning,” Okolie commented when BN spoke to him on Friday.
“However, each fight calls for a different thing. I’m excited for Saturday. I’d like to see what this fight calls for. I’m gonna demonstrate.”