CHRIS Billam-Smith says son Frank will be “getting his birthday present a day late” this year, admitting it has been “very difficult” to spend so much time away from his family as he prepares for the biggest night of his career.

Billam-Smith, who grew up in Bournemouth, married long-term partner Mia in August 2020, the pair welcoming their first child into the world little under two years later.

Son Frank’s first birthday is fast approaching. While ordinarily that may be a day of celebrations, for Billam-Smith, it is likely to be a bit different this time around, with a world title fight against Lawrence Okolie on the horizon the following evening.

Asked how his first year of fatherhood has been, with Frank turning one on May 26, Billam-Smith told the Daily Echo: “It’s good. It’s very difficult being away from Mia and Frank.

“Unfortunately it’s what needs to be done. They’re all good back home.

“I try and video call them twice a day, or at least once a day, depending what my schedule is like.

“It is difficult being away and only being home for 48 hours at the weekend. But it will all be worth it.

“It’s Frank’s first birthday on May 26, so he’s getting his birthday present a day late!”

Billam-Smith, 32, is edging ever closer to the fight of his life, challenging former gym-mate Okolie for the WBO cruiserweight title at Vitality Stadium, in front of around 15,000 fans.

The pair have sparred hundreds of rounds in the past, before Okolie left Shane McGuigan’s gym to team up with trainer SugarHill Steward earlier this year.

“I know exactly what he brings and his strengths,” said Billam-Smith, when asked about facing a familiar opponent.

“I guess it’s just about nailing the gameplan. There’s definitely things to work on, in terms of things I’ve got to do, a few of my weaknesses, or little mistakes that I make that I’ve got to iron out and make sure I can’t have those in this fight.

“And then getting my work off and getting into positions and stuff that I need to do for the fight.

“It’s obviously a physical fight, they all are, and this one is a very physical fight with the way that Lawrence fights.

“It’s going to be more about the gameplan itself than really doing anything extra with fitness or anything like that. It’s just about getting the gameplan right.”

Put to him that it will be hard to predict how he feels fighting against a friend until the pair actually step into the ring, Billam-Smith added: “For sure. The closest I’ve come is probably the Tommy McCarthy rematch.

“We spoke a bit on fight week and got on fine and then when it matters and when it comes down to it, no-one is your friend.

“They’re going to try and take your head off as well. It’s just about getting in the zone.”