Home Boxing News Chris Billam-Smith scores come-from-behind eighth round stoppage of Mateesz Masternak to retain...

Chris Billam-Smith scores come-from-behind eighth round stoppage of Mateesz Masternak to retain WBO belt

Chris Billam-Smith (right) and Mateusz Masternak. Photo credit: Sky Sports

WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith 19-1 (13) has cleared the way for a rematch against sole conqueror Richard Riakporhe 17-0 (13) following his eighth-round stoppage victory over Mateusz Masternak 47-6 (31) at the Bournemouth International Centre in Bournemouth, England on Sunday night.

Fighting in front of his hometown crowd, the 33-year-old titleholder had his work cut out for him early. After shading the opening round, Billam-Smith found Polish veteran Masternak, 36, to be a tough and determined challenger.

Masternak’s jab couldn’t miss and he found the target with his right hand too. Billam-Smith smothered his own work on the inside much of the time and failed to get into much of a rhythm until the mid rounds of the fight.

The sixth round was close but it was in the seventh that Billam-Smith turned the fight on its head. Switching his attack to the body, he landed with lefts and right to Masternak’s midriff.

It proved to be a genius move.

Masternak clutched the left side of his torso in the corner and when the bell rang to start the eighth, he remained on his stool. The official time of the stoppage was 0:02.

Masternak was leading by three points on two of the judges scorecards at the time of the stoppage. The third judge saw the fight even.

According to CompuBox, Masternak landed 42 jabs, a vital tool to setting up his 46 power punches. Despite absorbing a lot of punishment, Billam-Smith landed 45 power punches of his own, 47% of them body punches. Both boxers were cut over the left eye.

“I respected him 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,” Billam-Smith said.

“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.”

With the win Billam-Smith sets up a rematch with WBO number one contender Riakporhe, 33, of London, who defeated him by split decision over 10 frames early on their careers almost five years ago.

Given the option, Billam-Smith says he would like to go straight into a unification bout next year.

“We’ll see. Christmas [comes first],” he said. “I’ve always said I want to be undisputed. If we can get another belt, I’d be very keen for that.

“I never shy away from a fight. Me and Rich [Riakporhe] have boxed before but that was a different me.

“It would be an amazing rematch. He might look at tonight and fancy his chances, so bring it on.”