Billam-Smith Survives Scare To Retain WBO Cruiserweight Belt With Hard-Fought Victory Over Masternak

Chris Billam-Smith survived a scare to retain his WBO cruiserweight title against Mateusz Masternak after the latter failed to start the eighth round. 

Billam-Smith was making the first defense of his title following his shock win over Lawrence Okolie. The champion was fighting in his hometown of Bournemouth. The Brit started well as he pushed Masternak on the back foot in the opener.

The WBO champion attempted to do the same in the next round. However, Masternak found his groove as he landed some sharp counters. Masternak grew in confidence, cutting Billam-Smith above the left eye in the fourth, in a clear sign of danger. The Pole increased his output in the sixth round as Billam-Smith appeared to run out of ideas.

However, the tide turned in the seventh. As both fighters were exchanging, Masternak suffered a cut above his left eye and to the forehead. The Brit grew in confidence as he targeted the body continuously. That took its toll as Masternak’s corner threw in the towel following a rib injury.

At the time of the stoppage, Billam-Smith was behind on two of the scorecards. The win keeps Billam-Smith’s hopes of a unification with Jai Opetaia alive. Meanwhile, rematches with Okolie and Richard Riakporhe remain possibilities. 

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“I believe there’s another vacant title now. I’ve always said I wanted to be undisputed. If we can get that on the line against anyone, I’d be very keen on that. I’ve never shied away from a fight. Me and Richard boxed in our tenth fight we had similar records, it was a risk for both of us. It will be amazing the rematch. I’m much better than that. He might look at that and fancy it.

“I respected [Masternak] so much in the build-up. I said he would be my hardest fight to date and he proved it. I made it hard for myself, I was trying too hard to land one big shot. I knew I had hurt him [with the body shots at the end of the seventh round] as he slowed right down. That ended the fight. I believe I would have got to him. I started finding the jab. It was a shame he pulled out as I believe I would have showed maturity. I made it tough on myself,” Billam-Smith

Rest Of The Card

Ben Whittaker def. Stiven Dredhaj via a fourth-round KO – Light heavyweight

Lauren Price def. Silvia Bortot via a points decision: 80-72 – Welterweight

Lee Cutler def. Kingsley Egbunike via a unanimous decision: 96-95, 97-93, 97-93 – Welterweight

Francesca Hennessy def. Lucrecia Belen Arrieta via a points decision: 59-55 – Bantamweight

Michael McKinson def. Musah Lawson via a unanimous decision – Welterweight

boxing newsChris Billam-SmithJai OpetaiaLawrence OkolieMateusz MasternakRichard Riakporhe