Chris Billam-Smith: Calling me the ‘Gentleman’ is ironic – I’m vicious when I step through the ropes | Boxing News

When Chris Billam-Smith declined to shake Mateusz Masternak’s hand after their weigh-in, it was a hint of his mindset going into this fight.

He might be known as “The Gentleman” but for tonight’s WBO cruiserweight world title fight against Masternak he has bad intentions.

Billam-Smith wants to accomplish something no one expects. Something that world champions Tony Bellew and Yuniel Dorticos could not do. He believes he can drop and stop Mateusz Masternak.

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Chris Billam-Smith refused to shake the hand of Mateusz Masternak during a very intense face-off

The Polish challenger has only been stopped once in his long, 52-fight career and that was more than 10 years ago against Grigory Drozd in Russia.

“I’m just feeling supremely confident at the moment and believe I can be the first man to stop him or drop him and get rid of him early,” Billam-Smith told Sky Sports.

“You can’t fake true confidence and that comes from the work you put in. I always leave no stone unturned. I’ve improved so much in the way I’ve developed in training in the last year and a bit.

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Chris Billam-Smith’s trainer Shane McGuigan says his fighter can’t afford to be complacent as he defends his WBO cruiserweight title for the first time against Mateusz Masternak

“It’s a true inner confidence that comes from all the work I’ve put in and the way I live my life.”

Billam-Smith has been training with purpose. Rumour has it he has been hurting sparring partners.

“I’ve doing some good work in sparring,” he said with some understatement.

“That’s why I like my nickname “The Gentleman.” It’s ironic because one thing you can’t be in a boxing ring is a gentleman.

“Now people know what I’m about in the ring, they’ve seen it. I’m a savage in the ring and that is just my mindset. I flick a switch on fight night, or in sparring or whatever it is. As soon as I climb through the ropes I’m a different person.”

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Chris Billam-Smith says people are making a big mistake by writing off Mateusz Masternak and he has prepared for a very tough night on Sunday

He knows though how formidable Masternak can be. The Pole has had considerably more knockout victories than Billam-Smith has had fights.

“The last fights he lost were Dorticos and Bellew. Both went on to win world titles after he’d boxed them. Both fights there were two or three points in it,” Billam-Smith said.

“Everyone knows who Tony Bellew is. Dorticos was IBF champion and had been in phenomenal fights, 24 knockouts in 26 wins.

“So it goes to show the level of Masternak and where he’s at. It’s a tough night’s work for sure.”

Given that this is the first actual world title shot of Masternak’s career, the fight he has spent so long striving for, the Pole will be more motivated than ever.

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Chris Billam-Smith and Mateusz Masternak have faced off ahead of Sunday’s world title fight which will see Billam-Smith put his WBO world cruiserweight belt on the line

“I’m aware of the test in front of me,” Billam-Smith said. “There’s not going to be any resting in this fight.

“If you look at his career it’s a phenomenal career and the fights he has lost and how close they are, it’s crazy.

“I know my level and where I’m at and haven’t been fully able to show it in recent performances. But I think Sunday we’ll see the very, very best version,” he promised.

He might need that to win.

Billam-Smith may have achieved his dream when he beat Lawrence Okolie to win the title. But he remains driven. “I’m still underrated as a world champion,” he said. “I want to prove that I’m number one in the world.

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Adam Azim says Chris Billam-Smith has been showing devastating power in the gym and predicts he will knockout Mateusz Masternak

“So there’s improvements to be made in my own work but also in other people’s opinions. You’re not always going to change everyone’s opinions but you can at least fight the best fighters out there and prove yourself and people won’t have much to say then,” he continued.

“That’s my aim for next year to win, look good on Sunday and move on to fighting big names and people who other people think I can’t beat. So that’s the plan.”

He promises a to deliver a performance that will “send a message to the entire cruiserweight division.”

“I think people will be licking their lips after Sunday”.

Watch Chris Billam-Smith vs Mateusz Masternak live on Sky Sports Arena from 6pm on Sunday