The Opening Round: Chris Billam-Smith v Mateusz Masternak
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Chris Billam-Smith would be forgiven for taking the easy option on his celebratory Bournemouth homecoming this weekend, but that just isn’t his style!
Many had expected ‘The Gentleman’ to ease into life as a world champion with a relatively straight-forward first defence of his prized WBO cruiserweight title…
But what do we all know!
Instead, the odds-on 2/7 fight favourite is set to tackle the battle-hardened 11/4 outsider Mateusz Masternak on the South Coast on Sunday night; an opponent whose professional career has amassed 52 fights, and seen him trade blows with some of the biggest names in the 200lbs boxing code.
Bouts against the likes of Tony Bellew and Yuniel Dorticos should prove to stand the tough and durable Polish fighter in good stead ahead of his first, and probably only, crack at a coveted world strap.
But that means little to Billam-Smith, who will take to the Bournemouth International Centre still riding a crest of a wave following his sensational win over the previously unbeaten Lawrence Okolie earlier this year.
The Bournemouth native was the underdog on that occasion, but tore up the script in the most sensational style, dethroning his former stablemate and asserting himself as one of the biggest names, and biggest pulls, in domestic boxing.
Whilst the temperatures this weekend won’t quite hit the same heights that were enjoyed at the Vitality Stadium on that spectacular evening back in May, bet365’s resident Boxing expert Rob Tebbutt is once again backing Billam-Smith to produce an equally as hot performance inside the ropes.
“This is a really good fight and one that I expect to catch fire between two guys who love to throw big bombs, but I am leaning towards Billam-Smith on the back of his superb success over Okolie earlier in the year,” he told bet365’s Sports & betting News site.
“This is a tricky first defence for him, and certainly not a gimmee fight that we do tend to see a lot of other newly crowned world champions taking on the back of capturing their titles.
“Masternak is one of the most experienced, tough and game competitors in the cruiserweight division and he is going to give Billam-Smith a tough night’s work on Sunday, that’s for sure.
“The tough and rugged Polish fighter has been around the block, has been in with so many names at this weight, and has only ever been stopped once, so I am expecting it to go long, and very deep.
Billam-Smith is the younger operator, and the fitter operator, and I think that is going to tell late on, which is why I will also be taking a look at the Bournemouth man getting a late stoppage victory, ‘Between Rounds 7 – 12’, which has been BOOSTED to 7/2.”
Billam-Smith v Masternak tops the bill of a stacked fight card this weekend; one that also includes the much-anticipated in-ring return of ‘The Surgeon’ Ben Whittaker and Olympic Gold medallist Lauren Price.
“I’m excited to see the return of Ben Whittaker on the undercard this Sunday night, and for me, as ever, this fight all comes down to how quickly he wants to beat Stiven Leonetti Dredhaj,” Tebbutt added.
“I expect him to come out quickly and like the look of the 5/6 on offer for a stoppage in the first two rounds, but if you fancy him to showboat a little, which he may want to do having been out of action for a little while, then the 5/2 on offer for Rounds 3 – 4 also looks appealing.
“Lauren Price steps things up a level on Sunday night too, tackling the game and experienced Silvia Bortot – an opponent who too former world champion Mikaela Mayer the full distance last time out.
“I’ve got a feeling that this fight will go exactly the same way too, and a price win on points is available at a relatively short price of 2/7, but if you want to look for a bit more value by backing the the hard-hitting Price to get the stoppage then that is available at 10/3.”
bet365 are also offering Bet Boosts across all of Sunday evening’s BOXXER action, meaning you can take advantage of even BIGGER prices on the headline bout and the full undercard, including BOOSTED Bet Builders on both Billam-Smith and Masternak.
The Sports & Betting News team have also put together a comprehensive All You Need To Know guide for the main event, as well as a detailed Tale of the Tape article which houses all of the vital statistics of the two fighters.
Bet Boosts and odds displayed within this article were correct at the time of writing and are subject to withdrawal or change at any time.