CHRIS Billam-Smith insists the extra pressure on him this week is a “privilege” as he prepares for the “pinnacle” fight of his career at Vitality Stadium tonight.

The lifelong Cherries fan has always dreamt of boxing on the pitch of his hometown club and his dreams are set to come true this weekend.

The 32-year-old headlines the BOXXER show, as he challenges WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie, in Bournemouth’s first world championship title fight.

Fight week culminated on Bournemouth Pier on Friday afternoon, with Billam-Smith and Okolie both weighing-in at 14st 3lb in front of the fans, before facing-off for the cameras.

Back in 2015, Billam-Smith told close friend Lee Cutler the pair would fight at Vitality Stadium one day, after the latter saw the Gentleman on Sky Sports on the pitch after Cherries had clinched promotion to the Premier League.

Eight years on, that is set to become reality, with Cutler part of the undercard, taking on Stanley Stannard.

“I got to see the stadium on Wednesday and it put a huge smile on my face and filled me with a lot of emotion, which is good,” said Billam-Smith.

“I’ve been visualising this and planning for this for many years. When I said that thing to Lee, I was still an amateur. Here we are now as a professional and we’re right at the pinnacle.

“I think there can’t be any more pressure on me in the rest of my career than this Saturday night. It’s a first world title fight, it’s at home, the whole show is built around me and this event and has been for the last two shows as well that we’ve done down here.

“But like I always say, pressure is a privilege and I’ll soak it up. The more pressure the better. But absolutely there’s pressure and a huge amount of excitement as well."

He added: “I’m feeling great energy from the whole town. They’ve been brilliant, the support has been huge.

“At the end of the day, they’re the reason we’re able to fill the stadium. They’re the ones who go and work hard and pay their hard-earned money to come and watch me.

“I’m going to reward them on Saturday night.”

On his path to becoming a pro, Billam-Smith cited former world champions Roy Jones Jr, Muhammad Ali and George Groves among his inspiration.

Asked if becoming a world champion was always the ambition when starting out as a professional boxer, Billam-Smith told the Daily Echo: “For me, when I thought about going pro and the opportunity with Shane (McGuigan) came, to train with Shane, it’s a world-class gym.

“So the mantra and the ethos in the gym is just world class and the way we train is world class. So then in a way you’re sort of expected to fight for a world title if you’re in the gym. That’s always the aim for everyone that’s in the gym.

“I thought once I’m there in that position, I can get to that level. It’s been a hard learning curve for sure, being in the gym. Lots of sparring over the years, lots of learning. But now I’m ready.”