Boxing insider Interview: Cruiserweight Prospect Chris Billam-Smith
By: Oliver McManus
Off the back of our British Boxers to Watch feature, I spoke to 4 and 0 Cruiserweight prospect Chris Billam-Smith about his career thus far and what the future has in store for him – boxing on Cyclone Promotions shows, the Bournemouth-born fighter has a 100% knockout percentage having defeated (seeing as it’s only four names, I’ll list them all) Russ Henshaw, Aleksandar Todorovic, Jan Hrazdira and Lazslo Ivanyi to the plaudits of the boxing community.
Chris, pleasure to speak to you, first year in the pro ranks – how do you think it’s gone?
It’s been great. A great opportunity me to work with a great team and great people. I had a busy 11 weeks from September to December with 4 fights which is also great, so I’m a lucky man.
You’ve fought four times in three months, are you looking to keep that sort of regularity going into 2018?
A bit more rest would be good! I’m sure it will slow down a bit now as going into 6 and 8 rounders before hopefully fighting for a title towards the end of the year. Whatever the title may be.
What do you make of the quality of fighter you’ve faced? They’ve certainly not been walkovers but you’ve dispatched with them emphatically.
Well you know how the business works. These are guys I’m supposed to be beating so I’m not getting ahead of myself. I’ve just been accurate and timed shots well. But tougher tests will come and I look forward to them especially domestically it’s becoming an exciting division.
You’re nicknamed The Gentleman, where does this come from?
It was Shanes shout. We had a few nicknames chucked about in gym CBSExpress was a close 2nd but Shane said because of my manners and the way I conduct myself. I have my father to thank for that as he is a gent.
How would you describe your fighting style?
I’m not sure really I’ll let you guys (the media)* describe it how you wish. All I know is I’ll be in some great exciting fights.
*for what it’s worth, this is how I described his style; “the youngster already showcasing a full range of skills that are destined to take him far – a prolific body puncher, his right hand hook is ferocious to say least and enough to send anyone crumpling to the canvas.”
Do you think you’re amateur experience helps you transition easily into the paid ranks?
Yeah because as an amateur I was a boxer through and through and boxed as an Elite from my 15th fight after I won the novices so I was always used to boxing good opposition.
You’re promoted and trained by the McGuigan’s who also promote Chantelle Cameron and Josh Taylor – how exciting is the future for Cyclone?
Very exciting. Especially as bit Chantelle and Josh Taylor are on the verge on winning world titles. It’s a great atmosphere in the gym. And we’re all grafting away and loving the big nights.
You’ve sparred both Isaac Chamberlain and Lawrence Okolie – from your experience, who wins that fight?
I sparred Okolie as an amateur so both him and I would’ve improved since then, but Chamberlain I have sparred more recently. I really can’t pick them as Chamberlain is hard to hit clean so will that nullify Okolie’s power? But Okolie isn’t all just saw power he is good at setting shots up too. It is a great fight and one I look forward to watching. If I had to make a decision is edge towards Okolie but no result will surprise.
I’ve heard you say you think more free to air boxing would help the sport, how has it benefited your career?
It’s been great. I’ve boxed in Scotland and Leicester so quite a long way from home and the ones who haven’t been able to travel have been able to watch me On TV. I’m getting a great backing and I’ve been stopped by strangers saying nice things to me so it’s great that not only me, but the sport as a whole is getting more exposure.
And finally then what are your plans for 2018, are you looking at any particular title fights?
Keep winning, keep the stoppages coming, keep enjoying myself and improving and get a title before the year is up. It doesn’t matter which one at this stage as it’s still early but I’m ready to get one as soon as obligations like fight in a scheduled 8 rounder are met.
Cheers for speaking to us at Boxing Insider, all the best!
Thank you guys for the interview. All the best
Many thanks, then, to Chris for taking the time out to speak to us ahead of what promises to be an exciting year and, indeed, career in general.
Let me just say that his nickname, The Gentleman, could not be a truer summarisation of his character – a truly humble man, full of manners, and a delight to speak to.
A really exciting fight that I’d like to see the youngster in would be a match-up with Wadi Camacho, potentially for the Southern Area championship, which would provide him with a good opportunity to test his array of skills against a domestic fighter who has stood the test of time.