WBO world cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith stood eye to eye with Mateusz Masternak today, the determined Polish contender eager to capture the title in the much-awaited main event at BOXXER: RETURN OF THE KING. The showdown is set to light up Bournemouth on December 10th, broadcasted live for boxing fans on Sky Sports.
Masternak, currently sitting at No. 5 in the WBO rankings, brings a vast reservoir of experience and a formidable six-fight winning streak to his pursuit of the world title. His journey brings him back to UK soil for the first time since his 2015 pursuit of the European championship against Tony Bellew. He’s coming off a string of successes, notably his fourth-round knockout of Armend Xhoxhaj, a fighter who lasted five rounds with Billam-Smith just a year ago.
Billam-Smith, a local hero, has filled the Bournemouth International Centre to the rafters twice already and is on track for a third blockbuster sell-out. Fresh off a victory over Lawrence Okolie at the bustling Vitality Stadium in May, he returns to the ring fueled by the energy of his passionate Bournemouth AFC fans.
BOXXER CEO Ben Shalom can hardly contain his excitement about the event. “Returning to Bournemouth with Chris Billam-Smith is thrilling. His ability to rally the city’s support is astounding. At this point, he’s not just a cruiserweight with a massive following — he’s a global sensation. We’ve already seen a rush on tickets, and we’re gearing up for a night that promises not just excitement but a genuine challenge from Mateusz Masternak,” Shalom expressed.
Billam-Smith has a high regard for his opponent, Masternak. “He’s exceptionally well-rounded, perhaps the most complete boxer I’ve yet to encounter. There are no glaring flaws in his game. Our styles share a lot of similarities, which guarantees a thrilling display for the fans. The arena amplifies their cheers magnificently, and being surrounded by legions of Bournemouth supporters, their voices echoing, reminds me of what drew me to boxing in the first place. Their support is something I cherish deeply.”
Masternak, with a career spanning 17 years, is finally approaching the world title opportunity he’s been striving for. “It’s been a road marked with triumphs and setbacks, but my time has come. I’ve patiently waited, and now I’m poised to claim the title. Chris is a tough competitor, but he hasn’t faced anyone with my level of experience or resilience. And let’s not forget, there’s a strong Polish presence here — it may be Chris’s home ground, but I’ll have my share of the crowd behind me,” said Masternak.
Shane McGuigan, the man behind Billam-Smith’s training, anticipates a riveting battle. “This fight is sure to keep fans on the edge of their seats. I see both men landing heavy shots. Masternak is a tough, seasoned opponent with power and a solid chin, but Chris’s speed, especially with his short-range combos, is unparalleled. The viewers are in for an absolute treat.”
Chris Billam-Smith is strutting back into the ring to defend his WBO World Cruiserweight Title against Mateusz Masternak. This clash of the titans is happening on December 10th, live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland and Peacock in the USA – because, you know, we all need something to watch while avoiding family gatherings.
Chris, ‘The Gentleman’, grabbed the WBO crown in May, leaving Lawrence Okolie in the dust at the Vitality Stadium. That’s right, the same place where he cheers for A.F.C. Bournemouth – talk about multitasking!
Now, he’s gearing up for his first title defense at the Bournemouth International Centre against Masternak, a Polish powerhouse who’s making his grand UK comeback since his 2015 European championship showdown with Tony Bellew.
But wait, there’s more than just this headline fight! The full undercard for this sold-out, seaside showdown is revealed and it’s like the best kind of variety show.
2020 Olympic Gold Medallist Lauren Price is stepping into the ring against former European Champion Silvia Bortot. Price, who’s already made history this year as the first woman to snag a British title, is looking to wrap up 2023 with a bang against Italy’s Bortot.
Ben Whittaker, another Olympic hero from 2020, is bringing his flashy style back to the ring. He’s undefeated and facing Stiven Leonetti Dredhaj – expect sparks to fly!
Michael McKinson, the boxing whiz, is hopping over from Portsmouth to join the undercard fun. He’s got his eyes on a title in 2024, so watch this space.
Lee Cutler, fresh off a win in May, is up against Obi Egbunike for the vacant English Super Welterweight Title. This fight’s got ‘edge-of-your-seat’ written all over it.
Lewis Edmondson, the unbeaten light heavyweight from Southampton, is also throwing his hat in the ring against Dmytro Fedas. He’s going for win number eight.
And let’s not forget Francesca Hennessy, the 18-year-old rising star and daughter of the famous boxing manager Mick Hennessy. She’s back for her second pro fight and ready to shine.