CHRIS Billam-Smith paid tribute to former Cherries boss Eddie Howe - and admits he has been inspired to have similar success in the ring.

The Bournemouth fighter makes a first defence of his Commonwealth Cruiserweight title on Friday night against Nathan Thorley, in the second instalment of Fight Camp from the gardens of Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Headquarters.

And the 30-year-old, a huge Cherries fan, says Howe’s journey, which came to an end by mutual consent on Saturday, has been an inspiration to him.

He told Pro Boxing Fans: “It’s just inspirational the way the journey is and how he (Howe) put Bournemouth on the map as a football team and what he’s done, the whole underdog story.

“The whole way from the bottom of League Two all the way to the Premier League, it’s unbelievable and that’s sort of how I feel in a way.

“Bournemouth’s not known for it’s boxing, it’s not a thriving boxing town.

“Obviously we’ve got a bit of history with Freddie Mills, but other than that there’s not much history there, so that’s what I plan on doing, doing a similar rise to the football team.”