Mateusz Masternak has emerged as the front-runner for Chris Billam-Smith’s first world title defense later this year.

Billam-Smith won the WBO world cruiserweight title when he outpointed former stablemate Lawrence Okolie at AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium last month.

The new champion sustained a cut above his left eye during the fight that is likely to rule him out of a return to sparring until August meaning he will probably return to the ring in October.

It had been suggested that Okolie would trigger the rematch clause in their initial fight contract but it seems as if the 2016 Olympian is set to pursue a different route which may include a move up in weight.

And now Boxing Scene understands that experienced Pole Masternak could get the call to face Billam-Smith in a voluntary world title defence.

The 36-year-old, who is 47-5 (31), had been named as the mandatory challenger for IBF champion Jai Opetaia but decided to withdraw from the June 15 purse bid for that fight.

Now Billam-Smith’s compatriot and former opponent Richard Riakporhe has been mandated to fight Opetaia instead and the two sides now have until July 14 to reach a deal before purse bids take place.

Meanwhile, Masternak could get a crack at the WBO title instead with Billam-Smith on the lookout for a credible opponent before pursuing a potential unification clash in 2024.

It is understood that despite the time of year, the fight could still take place outdoors at the Vitality Stadium once more, with the Bournemouth International Centre, which holds around 3,500, now deemed too small for a ‘CBS’ world title defense.

Should they press ahead with the idea despite the chance of inclement conditions, Saturday October 14 would be the chosen date due to the Premier League international break.