The same mentality that led Chris Billam-Smith to the WBO cruiserweight title will be applied to the first defense of that crown.
A second straight homecoming is afforded the Bournemouth native, who faces Poland’s Mateusz Masternak this Sunday on Sky Sports and Peacock+ from the Bournemouth International Centre. The bout comes less than six months after the biggest win of Billam-Smith’s career, when he outpointed then-unbeaten WBO cruiserweight title claimant Lawrence Okolie in an upset at Vitality Stadium in this very town.
“I feel supremely confident,” Billam-Smith told the Sky Sports broadcast team prior to his open media workout Thursday afternoon. “But I did last fight as well, as the challenger.”
Billam-Smith (18-1, 12KOs) won eight in a row but was still viewed as the betting underdog versus Okolie, his former stablemate and a 2016 Great Britain Olympian who’d held the WBO title for more than a year. The determination to shock the world propelled the first-time challenger to four knockdowns en route to a twelve-round, majority decision victory to pull off the impressive upset win.
The hunter has become the hunted this time around. Billam-Smith enters his hometown title defense as a -350 favorite according to bet365 sportsbook, who views Masternak (47-5, 31KOs) as a +275 underdog in what surprisingly marks his first major title fight.
Neither the odds nor his newfound title status matter to the local favorite.
“The belt means a lot to me,” noted Billam-Smith of his overall current status. “But when it comes to fight week, I just look at the opponent. That’s all that matters to me.
“I got twelve rounds against this guy. That’s what I have to focus on.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox