CHERRIES supporter Chris Billam-Smith is keen to follow in Eddie Howe’s footsteps by putting Bournemouth on the boxing map.

Billam-Smith revealed he had been inspired following a chance meeting with Howe ahead of his second pro fight at Wembley Arena last month.

Howe, who was at Wembley for Cherries’ Premier League clash with Spurs, spoke with the cruiserweight and British star George Groves at the weigh in for their respective bouts.

Billam-Smith on Saturday makes his third outing since joining the pro ranks when he takes on 34-year-old Czech puncher Jan Hrazdira in Edinburgh.

The 27-year-old, part of Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions stable, fights on the undercard when Josh Taylor defends his WBC silver super lightweight crown against Mexico’s Miguel Vazquez in front of the Channel 5 cameras.

Billam-Smith, who attended Stourfield Junior and Portchester School while honing his skills at Poole ABC, told the Daily Echo: “It was really good to meet Eddie, even if it was a bit of a shock!

“I had a good chat with him and we spoke about the Cherries squad going to Steve Bendall’s gym to do some punching sessions which he said had been great and a bit different.

“He is a hard person not to like. He comes across really well and has done a great job with the club at such a young age.

“It has been great to see the sport of football doing so well in Bournemouth. It has inspired me and, hopefully, it has inspired young people.

“We haven’t had a huge number of boxers from Bournemouth. Steve Bendall was a pro but he’s from Coventry. Steve has a few local pros like Matty Legg, Joe Hayes, Jake Best and Jake Gosling.

“It can set off a craze if someone close to home does well. It would be great to get more kids into boxing because it is a great sport to teach discipline and respect.

“It has definitely made me the person I am today so it would be great to put Bournemouth on the boxing map.”

Billam-Smith has two first-round knockouts under his belt in the paid ranks, disposing of Russ Henshaw and Croatian Aleksandar Todorovic.

His latest bout was part of the undercard as Groves defended his WBA super-middleweight title against Jamie Cox.

Although Czech fighter Hrazdira has lost seven of his nine professional bouts, he has only been stopped once – by heavyweight Jone Volau in May 2016.

Billam-Smith added: “He will be a bit tougher than one or two of my previous opponents. He has been in with some big-punching cruiserweights so should give me a few more rounds than I have been getting.

“I am feeling good and training has been excellent. I have had back-to-back camps because my fights have only been four weeks apart. I am looking forward to it.”