Chris Billam-Smith’s Rise From Underdog To World Champion

Chris Billam-Smith’s rise through the ranks has been impressive as the WBO cruiserweight champion makes the first defense of his title against Mateusz Masternak in his hometown of Bournemouth on Sunday, which you can catch live on FIGHT SPORTS.

The fighter worked his way up the ranks from winning British and European titles before getting his world title shot against Lawrence Okolie. The latter was the heavy favourite going into the fight. The fight had the added twist of them being former sparring partners and good friends outside the ring. Billam-Smith caused a massive upset on his way to a majority decision win. He became the first world champion from Bournemouth since Freddie Mills in 1948. He faces the 36-year-old Masternak in front of his home fans at the Bournemouth International Centre as he saw similar parallels between the rise of Bournemouth Football Club and his career.

“Just like AFC Bournemouth, I had no expectations on me but I have worked my way up, overcome some challenges and got my rewards. Now I’m in the top league like Bournemouth are. I’m a huge fan of the club. I used to have a season ticket for two years when I was 12 to 14 years old and I followed the club when they were in the lower leagues all the way to the Premier League,” Billam-Smith said

A win sets up a potential unification against Jai Opetaia or A. Goulamirian. Meanwhile, rematches with Okolie and Richard Riakporhe are also on the table. The latter is the only man to have beaten Billam-Smith, as the champ eyed those fights later down the line. 

“Lawrence Okolie and Richard Riakporhe are in my contract as potential opponents, so technically I’ve already signed to fight them. People want to see these rivalries, like we had with Carl Froch and George Groves [at super middleweight] ten years ago,” Billam-Smith

Where And When

The start time is 1pm ET. Make sure you catch the fight live on FIGHTSPORTS and FIGHTSPORTS MAX in the territories below.

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A. Goulamirianboxing newsChris Billam-SmithJai OpetaiaLawrence OkolieMateusz MasternakRichard Riakporhe