Chris Billam-Smith and Isaac Chamberlain laid it all on the line on Saturday night. Their glorious 12-rounder for the Commonwealth and European cruiserweight championships will be high on many lists when the subject of British Fight of the Year is discussed. Billam-Smith won an instant classic via unanimous decision in a bout that spoke to the strength of the domestic cruiserweight division.
Billam-Smith and Chamberlain are part of one of the hottest divisions in the country. The cruiserweight class has produced some of Britain’s most captivating fighters, with David Haye, Enzo Macarinelli, Tony Bellew and Carl Thompson lighting up rings in years gone by. Now a new generation of 200-pounders is taking up the mantle. Here are eight outstanding British cruiserweights to watch.
WBO champion ‘The Sauce’ is an 18-0 force of nature. The 29-year-old took up boxing after being inspired by Anthony Joshua’s London 2012 gold medal victory, and has wasted no time in reaching the top of the sport. Okolie’s McDonald’s-worker-to-world champion story is a filmmaker's dream. His stunning sixth-round TKO of two-time belt-holder Krzysztof Głowacki in 2021 to lift the title proved he is more than just an appealing narrative.
The unbeaten former British cruiserweight champion has shown plenty of promise, as well as improving power. ‘Midnight Train’ has finished his last three bouts via knockout, including an impressive stoppage over fellow unbeaten star, Deion Jumah. World-ranked by the WBC, the 32-year-old knows time is of the essence to make an impact on the global scene.
Winner of that glorious war with Chamberlain, the popular Bournemouth man is ranked by all four world bodies. ‘The Gentleman’ has proven himself once and for all at domestic level, with his only reverse coming to Riakporhe. The Commonwealth and European champion must now pursue loftier honours.
Nigeria-born Londoner ‘Lethal’ Mikael Lawal is on the cusp of a breakthrough. His 16-0 record has been forged in four, six and eight-rounders. 2022 could be the year the 27-year-old climbs up to title contention. His three victories on the way to winning the Ultimate BOXXER Cruiserweight tournament in 2019 clued fans in to his immense potential.
He took all the gas from Andino there... 😮💨
‘Chambo’ may have lost his nip-and-tuck classic with Billam-Smith, but he still has plenty to offer. A one-round demolition of world title challenger Dilan Prasovic shows what he’s capable of, and the fact the only other loss on his record came to Okolie reflects well. The road back will be tough, but the 28-year-old is well-equipped for the journey.
Originally an amateur boxer-turned-influencer, Riley impressed coaches at the Mayweather gym while he was training KSI for his second fight with Logan Paul. He was subsequently offered a chance to try his hand at the pro game. Unlike his YouTube brethren, Riley has cut his teeth fighting pro boxers rather than celebrities or UFC retirees. His 6-0 record has been earned the hard way, fighting on undercards for Manny Pacquiao, Kell Brook and Gervonta Davis.
‘The Ghost’ met a Ghostbuster last time out, getting stopped by Riakporhe. But the former English cruiserweight champion can come again. Solid victories over Sam Hyde and Wadi Camacho show that Jumah has the quality to rule at domestic level. However, the world scene might be a big ask at 33 years of age.
‘One Smack’ holds the IBO title at the weight, but his strong IBF ranking makes him an option for new champion Jai Opetaia. The 29-year-old has only been beaten once, losing to Riakporhe in 2019 for the British championship. Massey has notched four wins since, three coming by stoppage.
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