Billam-Smith Holds Onto WBO Cruiserweight Title After A Nervy Win Over Masternak
The expectations were high coming into the fight since Billam-Smith was making his first title defense after the victory over his former sparring partner Lawrence Okolie. Billam-Smith also had the added pressure of fighting in front of his home fans. That enthusiasm showed in the opening round as the Brit went on the offensive by putting Masternak on the ropes.
That pressure did not last long as the 36-year-old, Masternak, found himself at home. The Pole landed numerous counter punches with his jab and right hand in the following rounds, which resulted in a cut over Billam-Smith’s left eye in the fourth. Masternak continued to increase the pressure by round six as Billam-Smith visibly felt the pace of the fight.
But the champion found a second wind in the seventh. After both fighters engaged, Billam-Smith caused a cut over Masternak’s left eye. That was followed by a sustained attack on the body. As Masternak went to his corner, his team threw in the towel at the start of the eighth.
A rib injury meant that their fighter could no longer continue. It was a massive relief for Billam-Smith since he was behind on the scorecards before the fight was stopped. The champion can now target either Jai Opetaia for a unification or domestic clashes against Okolie or Richard Riakporhe.
“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. [And] 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
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