“Dreams,” Lawrence Okolie ominously tells Chris Billam-Smith, “don’t always come true.”
Okolie is coming to Bournemouth to win. He doesn’t care that Billam-Smith is an old friend and former gym-mate.
He doesn’t care that the hopes of Saturday’s raucous local crowd will be invested in Billam-Smith.
He doesn’t care that all Billam-Smith wants is to win a world title with 15,000 supporters roaring him on the Vitality Stadium in his home town, live on Sky Sports.
He wants the win and he needs the WBO cruiserweight title belt to stay wrapped round his waist after Saturday night’s fight.
“I have my own dreams and aspirations,” Okolie told Sky Sports, “and Chris is actually in my way.”
His attitude to Billam-Smith will be no different to any other opponent. “I’d have a fight with my own brother if necessary,” Okolie said. “I sparred my brother and I tell you what I didn’t go easy.
“I don’t really look at it any differently because it’s someone that I know or have known. I still have to block punches, slip punches and come back with my own.
“When the bell goes there’s no such thing as I know him and this, that and the other. It’s just a fight.”
Okolie is a formidable man to face in the ring. In less than 20 professional contests, he has won a world title and defended it three times.
“Not to mention British, Commonwealth, European [titles]. And not to mention I only had 20 something amateur fights,” he said.
“So I’ve had under 50 fights and I’ve become a European [amateur] champion and Olympian, British, Commonwealth, European and world champion.
“Against guys,” he added, “who have had a whole wealth of experience and at all times my character has shown through, so this is another opportunity for my character to show through.
“For me it’s just another one to tick off the checklist, boxing a fighter in their home town and I’m obviously the champion but the away fighter in theory.
“I’m looking forward to what’s to come.”
Billam-Smith has warned that Okolie will be shocked by his power. But the champion is adamant that “talk is cheap but I’m the harder puncher, not matter how you want to look at it, I punch harder than him”.
He is unconvinced that Billam-Smith will be tough enough to take his shots.
“No. I don’t think anyone is really,” Okolie said. “These guys have all tried but either they get hurt or disheartened or they get tired. I think all three are going to happen to Chris in this fight.
“I think all three are going to happen.
“If he comes how I expect him to come, which is to have a fight then yeah, I expect to knock him out. Because the more that you’re looking for it the more that opportunities arise for someone else. Someone like me.
“But we’ll see.”
Don’t miss Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Showcase from 7pm on Saturday night.
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