Chris Billam-Smith will make first defence of WBO title to Mateusz Masternak
It was reported at last week's WBO convention that Chris Billam-Smith (18-1, 12KO) will make the first defence of his WBO cruiserweight title against veteran Mateusz Masternak (47-5, 31KO) on December 16, live on Sky Sports.
Former opponent and close friend, Lawrence Okolie, held the WBO title from 2020-2023 but conceded it to former teammate Billam-Smith in May. 'The Sauce' had a rematch clause in the contract but it appears to have chosen a different direction, for now.
In chief support, former European welterweight champ David Avanesyan could face once-beaten Portsmouth stylist, Michael McKinson.
33-year-old CBS is The Ring’s No. 4-rated cruiserweight. The Bournemouth boxer won his first nine fights before tasting defeat via a close split decision to compatriot Richard Riakporhe. The Englishman rebounded strongly by collecting the Commonwealth cruiserweight crown before claiming British and European titles by beating fierce rical Tommy McCarthy (SD 12). Due to the tightness of the first fight, they met again in a rematch but second time around, 'The Gentleman' left no doubt and stopped the Irishman in eight rounds.
He followed that by defeating Brixton's Isaac Chamberlain via unanimous decision in front of his home fans in July 2022, then vacated the EBU title rather than go over old ground against Dylan Bregeon, who he had already defeated convincingly in November 2021. CBS came through some sticky moments to ice Armend Xhoxhaj out cold in five, last December, before claiming the WBO title by beating Okolie in what was a very messy fight, but one where he surprised the word with three knockdowns against a man that had never been troubled before.
Polish puncher Masternak is The Ring’s No.10-rated cruiserweight. Now 36, the 52-fight veteran turned professional 17 years ago in 2006.
'The Master' won the European title by outboxing Juho Haapoja (UD 12) but lost it in his first defense to Grigory Drozd (TKO 11) 10 years ago. Close losses to Youri Kalenga (SD 12) and Johnny Muller (SD 10) bookended a win over former unified cruiserweight kingpin Jean-Marc Mormeck (SD 10). He gave a good account of himself but lost to Briton Tony Bellew (UD 12) for his old European title in 2015.
Masternak reeled off a handful of wins between 2016-2018, including a rematch win over Youri Kalenga (TKO 6), but lost a close fight to former WBA titlist Yuniel Dorticos (UD 12) in the opening round of The World Boxing Super Series. However, the 36-year-old has since won six fights, including besting previously unbeaten Jason Whateley (UD 12) in an IBF title eliminator.
He passed up a shot at Ring and IBF ruler Jai Opetaia in favour of this shot at Billam-Smith.
The experienced campaigner has won the following cruiserweight titles during his career: WBO European; WBA Inter-Continental; WBC International Silver; European; IBO Inter-Continental; TWBA; Interim WBC Youth World.
Article sponsored by HÖRFA