Box Office this week looks ahead to a very exciting weekend in the UK with 3 World title fights that are headlining 3 separate shows on the same night! Also in the US, there is a great fight on the Undercard of Alexis Rocha vs Anthony Young, where the WBO Minimum belt will be on the line. This makes up the 4 picks we have for you this week.
Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith- WBO World Cruiserweight Title
Chris Billam-Smith will realize a dream this Saturday night when he gets a shot at a World Title at The Vitality Stadium, home to his beloved AFC Bournemouth. Standing in his way is WBO World Champion and former stablemate Lawrence Okolie. The 2 Cruiserweights are good friends and have sparred thousands of rounds together but will put all that aside this weekend.
Billam-Smith (17-1, 12 KOs) will be fighting in his hometown for the third fight in a row since joining Boxxer. His last 2 fights have been a unanimous points win over Isaac Chamberlain last July and the brutal 5th-round KO of Armend Xhoxhaj in December. Both of these were at the Bournemouth International Arena but now he is set to compete in a stadium, roared on by the Cherries faithful.
Lawrence Okolie (19-0, 14 KOs) makes his 2nd defense of his title since joining Boxxer earlier this year. Okolie only boxed at the end of March and scored a UD win over Australia’s David Light but came under heavy criticism for his performance. Fans were seen leaving early and Lawrence himself admitted he felt there was a little ring rust.
He will be looking to put on a more impressive display Saturday night as he aims to prove he is the number 1 Cruiserweight in the country. If he wins it will surely set up another domestic fight with Richard Riakporhe in which there will be little love lost after their altercation at the Creed 3 premiere earlier this year!
Shane McGuigan will be in Billam-Smith’s corner and will be looking to hone in on the knowledge he has of The Champion, his former fighter. Okolie left Shane as well as his management company 258 and promotors Matchroom to sign with Ben Shalom and return to fighting on Sky Sports. He also employed Tyson Fury’s trainer Sugar Hill as part of his shake-up.
Will Billam-Smith make his dreams come true or will his former teammate prove too much for him? We will find out Saturday live on Sky Sports, bought to you by Ben Shalom’s Boxxer.
Mauricio Lara vs Leigh Wood- WBA World Featherweight Title
After only a little over 3 months since they last did battle, Leigh Wood will look to exact revenge on Mauricio Lara this Saturday night. The pair met in Wood’s hometown of Nottingham in February where his trainer Ben Davidson was forced to throw the towel in after a heavy knockdown in the 7th round.
Wood (26-3, 16 KOs) was ahead on the cards at the time of the stoppage and will be looking to reclaim his WBA World Title at Manchester’s AO Arena. Wood claims to have learned from the mistakes he made in the first bout and this is why he has jumped straight back in with the Mexican after triggering his rematch clause.
Mauricio Lara (26-2, 19 KOs) returns to England once again but this time not as the challenger! It was initially uncertain as to whom he would rematch between former foes Josh Warrington or Leigh Wood and if he beats Wood again, it looks all set for him to face former IBF champion Warrington later in the year!
Will it be revenge or repeat? Can Leigh Wood take back his title or can Lara produce the goods to stop the man from Nottingham once again? We will discover the answers this Saturday night live on DAZN, bought to you by Eddie Hearn and Matchroom.
Luis Alberto Lopez vs Michael Conlan- IBF World Featherweight Title
Sticking with the Featherweight division, Michael Conlan makes his homecoming this weekend in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Conlan gets his 2nd shot at world glory when he takes on IBF champion Luis Alberto Lopez at The SSE Arena following his loss to Leigh Wood last year.
Conlan (18-1, 9 KOs) looked to be heading towards his first world title in March 2022, only for Wood to mount a late comeback and brutally stop him in the 12th round. Conlan was not only knocked out but also fell through the ropes in the stoppage loss! He bounced back in August and December though with back-to-back wins over Miguel Marriaga and Karim Guerfi respectively.
Mexican Lopez (27-2, 15 KOs) only became the champion in December when he went to Leeds and beat Josh Warrington in his hometown via a majority decision. He returns to British shores and comes off the back of 10 straight wins as he makes his first defense of his IBF crown.
The fight is a stone-cold 50/50 with the bookies and looks set to be one hell of a contest. The main event has been bought forward to around 9 pm so as not to clash with the 2 other world title fights. The fight is being bought to you by Bob Arums Top Rank in association with Queensberry and will be live on BT Sports.
Melvin Jerusalem vs Oscar Collazo- WBO World Minimumweight Title
Over in America, Oscar De La Hoya will host Alexis Rocha vs Anthony Young, with this exciting title fight on the undercard. Taking place at the Fantasy Springs Casino in Indio, California, Jerusalem will make his first defense of his WBO strap against unbeaten Puerto Rican Oscar Collazo.
Collazo (6-0, 4 KOs) is considered a hot prospect even at the age of 26 and gets a very early title shot in just his 7th professional fight. He last fought in January on another Rocha undercard when he stopped Yudel Reyes in the 5th round after knocking him down twice. The fight was a final eliminator and he has not had to wait too long to get his shot!
Melvin Jerusalem (20-2, 12 KOs) took the belt of Masataka Taniguchi in January with a KO in just the 2nd round in Japan! Known as “Gringo”, Philippine Jerusalem is coming off the back of 9 straight wins.
The fight lands as chief support to Rocha vs Young, live Saturday night on DAZN.
By Lee Browne