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Photo Credit: Bournemouth Echo

Chris Billam Smith is gearing up for his fifth fight on 9th March and this one will be back at his home town of Bournemouth at the 02 Academy. Chris opened up about his hopes for this year, sparring opportunities and gave his verdict on the British Beef clash between Lawrence Okolie & Isaac Chamberlain.

“I’m looking forward to boxing back in my hometown as the last few fights have all been away so it will be good to box back home as that where my fan base is. No opponent has yet been named, we are looking at a few English lads as the last 3 have been European. We will be going for a bit of a step up in class and my first scheduled 6 rounder so I’m looking forward to it. I’m hoping to be out 4 or 5 times this year maybe, March, June, September and December, we might even manage another one in there somewhere too.”

Chris was originally brought into camp to be a sparring partner for George Groves and he discussed how he looked up to him.

“I was brought in to spar with George back in 2015 and then got used for David Haye when he was here too. I’ve sparred with George on and off but not too much for his fight with Eubank Jnr as I’m a bit too tall. He was my favourite British fighter before I even sparred with him so it was great to work with him, it was a bit of an honour to be able to spar with him and now we are stablemates. He is looking really good and sharp so I can’t wait to see the fight and I’m buzzing for the 17th Feb to watch him.”

Now that you have moved from sparring partner to fighter, who have you got in to spar with you?

“It’s been fairly difficult, towards the end of last year I’d only had about 3 sparring sessions for my last 2 fights. With the fights not lasting that long so far, I’m not getting the experience so I’m getting most of my learning from sparring. I had some good sparring on my debut but after that it was difficult to get guys to spar with. More recently I’ve done some sparring with Isaac Chamberlain which is good as that gives you an indicator of where I am as he is at a good domestic level. I was also with Lawrence Okolie the other week as well so that’s really good sparring. I’ve got some more lined up with other guys soon so I’m starting to get a lot more which is good.”

Having sparred both Chamberlain and Okolie who do you think will win?

“I keep having arguments with myself as to who will win, they both have their strengths. Lawrence’s strength is obviously his power, Isaac is very fiddly and hard to hit clean so it’s difficult. Maybe Okolie early or Chamberlain on points but I literally can’t call it. I said to Shane (McGuigan) the other day I can’t call this one I don’t know who’s going to win this fight. I will be interesting and it depends who can adapt the best, it should be a good fight and a proper 50/50 fight. To be fair there have been some bills over the years which have been a well-known fighter versus no one but this is a decent bill with Joshua Buatsi and Ted Cheeseman on the card as well.”

Is there anyone in particular you would like to fight this year?

“Not necessarily a dream fight I just want to fight the best, obviously there are levels to this game I’m well aware of that. I want to box the right people that are at that level at the right time. I’m looking to get out and get a title by the end of this year, whether that’s a Southern Area, English, Commonwealth or British even if the opportunity comes up. The aim is a title by the end of the year and then start pushing on towards even more titles next year.”

Turning to the Bournemouth show in March how would people get tickets?

“Message myself on Facebook or Twitter, I am getting a ticket phone set up but don’t have that just yet. Hopefully it will do quite a few tickets seeing as it’s a home show, I’ve got a friend of mine who I used to help train who is fighting for the Southern Area Title on the top of the bill. That should be a good fight too and he’s got a lot of fans as well. We should be bringing lots of fans and it’s a massive cauldron of an arena, the 02 Academy is tiered so it’s like everyone is on top of you and the atmosphere is amazing.”

All going well this should be a great night of boxing and allow us to bring some bigger nights down to Bournemouth as well in the future.

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