Chris Billam-Smith withstood a late fightback from Tommy McCarthy to edge out a narrow split points decision to add the British and European Cruiserweight Titles to his Commonwealth title in an epic battle at the Matchroom HQ.
Belfast’s McCarthy started and ended the fight impressively, but his low output in-between cost him the decision. Both fighters received a scorecard of 115-114, but a 116-112 verdict for Bournemouth’s Billam-Smith was enough to see him progress to 13-1.
“It’s crazy, as Shane said, it’s been a bit of a tough camp towards the end – I had an injury, and I haven’t sparred in 3-4 weeks,” Billam-Smith told Matchroom afterward. “All that emotion came out, it was an interesting build-up the fight, future fights, but I’m over the moon.
“It was a good shot, the best shot he landed all fight, I was with it, but it was a good shot, it buzzed me in a way, but I was in control, I could see, I knew I’d been hit, but I just had to ride it a bit.
“I was really confident. The corner had it closer. In my head, I thought I’d won probably eight rounds, but I wasn’t scoring it as I went along – so maybe seven. There was no way he won seven rounds, absolutely no way, that first round he landed one shot. It was a good shot, but I also had him hurt and hit him a lot more – those rounds should really go in my favor.
“He was harder to hit cleanly to be fair to him, but that was my own fault. I was loading up, looking for one shot. Shane said that so the jab to the body was key. It was everything. It won me the fight. We watched the Askin fight today, which was the key – props to Shane.
“I sent the tweet out, and it got him going. He built the fight really well. I played the villain at the beginning and just let him run away with it. All respect to Tommy. He was tougher and better than I thought he was.
“I’m so much better than that. I just walked back into the changing rooms, and Shane has a massive go at me and said, ‘what was that?’ We know what I’m capable of, but then I get too excited in there when I hurt someone. That’s because I’ve only had 14 fights, I’ve got a lot of learning to do, but it’s a long process. I’m not the finished article, and that’s the sort of fight I need.
“I was fit in there, comfortable in there, still ready to work in that last round and go up a good gear, but I’ve got to learn to be more articulate with how I go about things.
“They all work hard in the gym; I like to do the little 1% that they probably can’t be bothered to do. They work hard, Lawrence runs every morning, everyone’s a grafter in the gym, but that comes down to Shane and Josh. They set such a high standard. You’ve got to be world-class and act like a professional the whole time in that gym to survive.
“There was a group of twelve lads from Bournemouth that I kind of know, and they all come up, to see them in a crowd and to make the noise they did, it was really special. It’s so good to have fans back and some normality.
“I want a show in Bournemouth, I really do. We tried it almost 18 months ago. It would be unbelievable to have a showdown there. We’ve got the Bournemouth International Centre which Eddie had booked for last March, which he couldn’t get an opponent for. I need a show in Bournemouth. I love my fans. They’ve been superb to me. I’ve been on the road, Riakporhe in London, Glover in Liverpool, here in London, I want to go home.”