IT IS just days until Chris Billam-Smith faces Lawrence Okolie in a world title fight at Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.

AFC Bournemouth’s home ground will stage boxing for the first time in the history of Dean Court, with current Commonwealth and European cruiserweight champion Billam-Smith looking to add the WBO’s (World Boxing Organization) cruiserweight title to his collection.

Here are all the relevant details ahead of a historic night in Dorset.

Who is Chris Billam-Smith?

‘The Gentleman’ has never lost any of his six previous bouts in Bournemouth, winning four times at the O2 Academy in Boscombe before back-to-back wins over Isaac Chamberlain and Armend Xhoxhaj at the Bournemouth International Centre in 2022.

A massive Cherries fan, the 32-year-old has long dreamt of boxing in front of his fellow supporters at Vitality Stadium.

Like Okolie, Billam-Smith operates with an orthodox stance, but unlike his opponent, he does not have an unbeaten record.

He lost to Richard Riakporhe via split decision after a close bout at the O2 in London back in 2019, the only blemish of his 18-1 record.

Billam-Smith has earned 12 of his wins via knockout.

Despite home advantage, Billam-Smith is seen as the outsider for this one with the bookies. According to, 'The Gentleman' is 13/2 to win, whilst Okolie is 3/10.

Who is Lawrence Okolie?

Bournemouth Echo: Billam-Smith (left) and Okolie (right) were introduced to the Vitality Stadium back in FebruaryBillam-Smith (left) and Okolie (right) were introduced to the Vitality Stadium back in February (Image: Richard Crease)

Okolie has an unbeaten record since his first bout in March 2017, when he defeated Geoffrey Cave by knockout.

His overall record stands at 19-0, with 14 wins via knockout.

The 30-year-old currently holds the WBO’s cruiserweight title, having first won it in 2021 after defeating Polish fighter Krzysztof Głowacki.

It will be Billam-Smith’s first shot at a world title, with the two boxers previously training together under Shane McGuigan.

Okolie is currently stablemates with Tyson Fury under the coaching of SugarHill Steward.

Nicknamed ‘The Sauce’, Okolie defended his title as recently as March, beating David Light by unanimous decision.

How many tickets have been sold?

According to organisers BOXXER, over 90 per cent of the 15,000 tickets available for the event have already been sold.

Such was the demand, the capacity was expanded by a further 4,000 tickets.

For Premier League matches, Vitality Stadium is constrained to a maximum capacity of 11,307.

However, due to more lax regulations in years gone by, the record attendance for a football crowd at Dean Court was set in March 1957, when 28,799 watched Cherries’ sixth-round FA Cup tie with Manchester United.

Who are the promoters, BOXXER?

Founded in 2018 by CEO Ben Shalom, BOXXER originally started out under the name ‘Ultimate Boxxer.’

The promoter ran multiple tournaments under the same name, eventually signing a four-year deal with Sky Sports in 2021.

It is the promoter’s first ever stadium fight in the UK.

Bournemouth-based Joseph Ashford-Ellis also played a role in organising the bout at Dean Court, with the local businessman donating his profits from the event to charity.

Will the event be on TV?

For those unable to attend, the event will be shown live on Sky Sports Action (from 7pm) and Sky Sports Main Event (from 10pm).

Channel numbers:

  • Sky Sports Action HD (Sky 407, Virgin 507)
  • Sky Sports Main Event HD (Sky 401, Virgin 501)
  • Sky Sports Action (Virgin 517)
  • Sky Sports Main Event (Virgin 511)

We will also be running a live blog on the Daily Echo website, as well as further coverage in the build-up to and aftermath of the event.

What is the fight week schedule?

Fans will be able to watch the fighters’ final preparations in the flesh tomorrow afternoon (Wednesday, May 24, 2pm-4pm) down on Bournemouth Pier.

A final press conference will take place on Thursday, May 25, before the public are again invited down to Bournemouth Pier for the official weigh-in from 1pm on Friday, May 26.

Doors then open at Vitality Stadium at 5pm on Saturday, May 27.

Who is on the card?

The exact order and timings of the night have yet to be announced, with two fighters still awaiting confirmation of their opponents.

Fights will get underway from 7pm, with the ring-walk for the main event anticipated to be around 10pm.

The co-main event will see Isaac Chamberlain share the ring with the undefeated Mikael Lawal for a chance at the British Cruiserweight Championship.

Chamberlain’s last fight was a loss to Billam-Smith via unanimous decision at the BIC in July 2022. Coincidentally, Lawal fought on the undercard at that event, defeating Javier Andino via knock-out.

‘Chambo’ has fought both of the fighters of the main event, losing to Okolie in 2018 at the O2 in London.

His professional record currently stands at 14-2, whilst ‘Lethal’ Lawal has won all 17 of his contests.

There are quite a few south coast fighters involved in proceedings.

Southampton’s Joe Pigford will look to preserve his unbeaten record against the experienced Sam Eggington in a super-welterweight contest.

‘The Pig’ has won all 20 of his bouts, whilst Eggington has 33 wins from 42 contests.

Lewis ‘The Saint’ Edmondson is another fighter on the card hailing from Southampton, the light-heavyweight set to go six rounds with Slovakian Vladimir Belujsky, also known as ‘Big Bad Vlad.’

Raised in Verwood, Lee Cutler has frequently fought on events headlined by Billam-Smith.

He faces the undefeated Stanley Stannard (10-0) in an English Super-Welterweight Championship eliminator.

Nicknamed ‘Chaos’, Cutler has 12 wins from 13 bouts.

Another Dorset-based boxer is Bournemouth-born Mace Ruegg, who will face Yeovil’s Dean Dodge in a super-featherweight bout.

Currently 8-0, Reugg comes from fighting stock, with both his parents Gemma and Danny Ruegg also boxing before.

Heavyweight Tommy Welch and Portsmouth welterweight Michael McKinson are scheduled to fight on the undercard, but their opponents are yet to be announced.

The only female fight of the night sees Olympic bronze medallist Karriss Artingstall take on Jade Taylor in a lightweight contest.