WBO world cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith [18-1], according to reports originating from Poland, is set to make the first defence of his WBO crown in early December.
Publication Ring Polska, where the reports have originated, have stated that long-standing cruiserweight contender Mateusz Masternak [47-5] is the leading contender to face Bournemouth-based Billam-Smith and that the former EBU champion has already signed his part of the bout agreement to meet the WBO title holder.
Last week at the WBO convention held in the Dominican Republic, of which ProBox TV was present, the championship committee permitted a request from promotional entity BOXXER for Billam-Smith to proceed with a voluntary defence of his title before the WBO calls for a mandatory defence. The current highest-rated cruiserweight within the WBO ranking system is promotional stablemate and fellow British fighter Richard Riakporhe.
Billam-Smith would claim the WBO title in a messy fight with then-champion and former 2016 Olympian Lawrence Okolie earlier this year in May in Billam-Smith’s hometown of Bournemouth. However, the bout was an attritional affair with Okolie guilty of holding, which resulted in two point deductions alongside Billam-Smith scoring four knockdowns in the process.
Masternak is currently unbeaten in six straight contests following his defeat to Yuniel Dorticos in their World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament in October 2018. However, the Polish fighter has been out of action for almost a year since his comprehensive victory over unbeaten Jason Whateley on October 29 in his homeland of Poland.
Masternak had been waiting for his title opportunity within the IBF ranking system and had been the previous mandatory challenger to current champion Jai Opetaia. However, Masternak was pulled from a purse bid process due to being assured by Boxxer that he would face Billam-Smith in October. Furthermore, Boxxer also removed Riakporhe from a purse bid process to meet Opetaia however, in the opinion of Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, who promotes Opetaia, it is due to Boxxer and Ben Shalom’s unwillingness to work or deal with himself [Hearn].
ProBox TV has reached out to Ben Shalom of Boxxer, who indicated that an announcement on Billam-Smith’s return and maiden title defence could be due this week.