Newly crowned WBO cruiserweight world champion Chris Billam-Smith was prepared for the mind games of Lawrence Okolie.
This past Saturday night in Bournemouth, Billam-Smith pulled off a shocker when he dropped Okolie three times and secured a twelve round decision win to capture the WBO title.
The home crowd of 15,000 at Vitality Stadium erupted when the outcome was announced.
Billam-Smith, although the big ticket seller at home, was the challenger and as such was required to make the first walk to the ring.
Okolie took his time to come out for his own ring walk, but Billam-Smith was prepared for those tactics by lining his robe with fleece.
"I prepared for it. I have a fleece lining robe. I was sponsored for the event. They sent their material that they use for their fleece over to me. I had an inkling he might do that given the fight was outside. So, I thought let’s put some fleece lining in that robe. So, the boys sent it [the robe] up to us. Shoutout to Sophie at FightLabel. It kept me warm out there, which was expected," Billam-Smith told The Daily Mail.
"I even said to Shane in the ring, when he was taking his time and I looked up at the screen and they were struggling to get him out, I said 'as expected.' So, yeah. You have to prepare for all eventualities. It’s easier to expect the worst and expect him to keep me waiting. So no I was very calm."
Okolie is also well known for his tactics of hitting and then holding. He's been penalized in the past for excessive holding. The fight with Billam-Smith was no different.
The referee issued numerous warnings and deducted two points from Okolie for excessive holding.
"[The holding was] annoying. I think the referee did a really good job. Lawrence in the past has always done that. It became more and more apparent because sometimes he was doing not off the back of a punch. He would literally just dip and hold," Billam-Smith said.
"I wasn’t moving. I was trying to keep my arms on the inside to prove it wasn’t me holding. We knew Lawrence was going to do it and I could have negated it more at time but it was expected."
A rematch between the two is likely, with Okolie having the option to exercise an immediate rematch clause.