Ben Shalom hopes for South Coast return for cruiser king Chris Billam-Smith

Promoter Ben Shalom paid tribute to the gallant challenge of Mateusz Masternak before praising his cruiserweight world champion Chris Billam-Smith after their war on Sunday. 

Bournemouth hero Billam-Smith forced Masternak to surrender after hurting him with body shots, meaning the veteran visitor could not go on into the eighth round. It was MAsternak’s first world title shot in 53 pro fights. 

“Your heart goes out to Masternak,” Shalom admitted. “He’s waited his whole career for a world title shot and unfortunately he came up short tonight. But [it’s] another incredible night tonight. The journey continues for Chris Billam-Smith. Hopefully we will be back here very soon, but thank you to all his fans because they really do make these nights extremely, extremely special and a very good night.” 

The Bournemouth fans packed the BIC and Shalom is now stuck between a venue that holds under 3,500 (which was sold out more than a month ago) and the football ground with seasonal availability but that holds more than 15,000. 

Either way, everyone in the BIC last night would have said the atmosphere was incredible. There was even a sizeable Polish contingent cheering Masternak on. 

Billam-Smith quickly said his future fights had to be in Bournemouth, but Shalom actually wouldn’t discuss Billam-Smith’s future immediately after the fight because he wanted the champion to savour his victory. 

“I think it’s a bit unfair to Chris,” Shalom said, of what might come next, while taking questions at the post-fight press conference. “That was a tough night’s work and he deserves it. Being sat up with here as a defending world champion from where we were, it’s almost like you’ve got to pinch yourself. It’s incredible. It really is. He [Billam-Smith] has to look how far he has come to sit here as a genuine world champion having beaten two world-class opponents. That was the focus of tonight, to show he’s world level and to show the Okolie night wasn’t a one-off. At that time, Lawrence Okolie was considered the best cruiserweight in the world and he [Billam-Smith] proved it again tonight against a very good opponent. He needs to enjoy this, enjoy Christmas, look how far he’s come and it goes on from here, which is even more incredible.”