EUROPEAN cruiserweight champion Chris Billam Smith is expecting to box on Conor Benn’s April undercard in a mandatory defence against Italy’s Fabio Turchi.

“He’s quite tough. Can be a bit wild at times, a southpaw obviously. Tommy McCarthy had quite a close fight with him. Short, stocky, looks quite strong. I think it’s a good fight for me,” Billam Smith said of Turchi.

Billam Smith was also the British champion, but had to vacate that belt, unable to box both the mandatory for that title and the European mandatory in time. “It’s a nice problem to have in a way, various different mandatories for various different belts,” he said. “I was gutted about it but I need to keep the European and I’ve got a mandatory for that, it’s helps with my world rankings. It makes business sense and that’s what the team around me are there for.

“For me it’s just about taking the right fights, getting up to world level and keep progressing.”

A good win over Turchi would set him up for an active year. “We’ve got this fight in April then we need to have a sit down and plan the route after that towards world level and see what’s next and decide what we want to do as a team,” Chris said. “I want to fight in Bournemouth. I’d love to do that after this one, whoever it may be. I’d love to fight back home. I think the show would do really well down there. People are always asking me when’s a show coming down there etc. I’d love to do that. In terms of actual titles, look at this defence and see where we’re at and see what’s going on with the world titles and then look towards an eliminator towards the end of the year. But you never know. Opportunities might come up in the meantime and we might have to take them. But like I said, sit down with the team, with Jake and Shane McGuigan, with Eddie [Hearn] and see what the best thing to do is.”

Billam Smith’s gym-mate Lawrence Okolie holds one of the four major belts and is boxing on February 27, but otherwise it’s unclear what the other cruiserweight belt-holders will be doing. “It’s something we’ve got to look at and see if any of the champions will be available to fight or have mandatories etc. There seems to be lots of talk going on at the moment of various different belts,” he said. “Whether it’s their mandatories, [Arsen] Goulamirian was meant to fight [Alexey] Egorov a number of times, still hasn’t and he was his mandatory so I’m not sure what’s going on there. It’s just wait and see what’s going and if they are tied up, then keep getting meaningful fights that are going to progress my career.”