- Local time
- Today 8:29 PM
The two fighters were no strangers to each other, having sparred extensively during their time under the same trainer, Shane McGuigan. This familiarity proved beneficial for Billam-Smith as he secured a majority decision victory.
However, Okolie can only blame himself for losing his world title and undefeated record. He was deducted points twice for holding and was fortunate not to lose more. Billam-Smith scored three knockdowns in the fight, with the first and third being rightfully acknowledged, while the second knockdown was controversially attributed to a punch.
One judge remarkably scored the fight 112-112, but the others, though possibly too wide with scores of 116-107 and 115-108, rightly favored Billam-Smith. Until Okolie was knocked down in the fourth round, it seemed he would successfully handle the challenge posed by the hometown favorite, despite his excessive holding tactics after throwing most of his single shots and combinations.
Once Okolie tasted the canvas for the first time in his career from a left hook, the momentum shifted, and the referee had to repeatedly caution the champion for rule violations.
Points were deducted in the fifth and seventh rounds due to Okolie's infractions. Billam-Smith scored further knockdowns in rounds 10 and 11, with the former being highly disputed but perhaps understandable given the extent of Okolie's leaning at the time.
Despite Okolie landing impactful headshots throughout the fight, his defensive approach left observers wondering why he fought with such negativity until it was too late.
To his credit, Okolie graciously accepted defeat at the final bell, allowing Billam-Smith to bask in his victory in front of the 15,000 fans in Bournemouth.