By Jonathan Nagioff (@jonathannagioff)
Trainer Shane McGuigan praised the “seasoned performance” of Cruiserweight prospect Chris Billam Smith following his 5th round TKO victory over Gheorghe Danut on Friday night at Bournemouth’s o2 academy.
McGuigan has been in ‘The Gentleman’s corner since his professional debut last September and overlooked a fifth straight stoppage win, on Billam-Smith’s return to Bournemouth.
Billam-Smith, (5-0-0) put in a relentless punching display in front of his home contingency, landing two knockdowns on his way to another victory inside the distance, with the experienced Romanian deciding to withdraw from the contest after the fifth round, rather than facing more punishment in the final round of the scheduled six bout contest.
And coach McGuigan, who masterminded the tactics for WBA and IBO super middleweight champion, George Groves in his recent unanimous points win over Chris Eubank Jr, was satisfied with his fighter’s performance.
McGuigan exclusively told the Bournemouth Rock: “I thought it was really good. He got a few rounds to learn there tonight which he hasn’t had before.
“He got 5 rounds and that guy hadn’t been stopped many times, so I thought it was a really seasoned performance even though it was only his fifth fight.”
Danut, (11,27,7) who turned professional in 2006 provided durable opposition for the former Poole ABC man and McGuigan was pleased with the intensity of the bout.
“No, I knew he was going to be that tough,” he explained “That’s why we scheduled it for a six (round fight) so we could get those rounds in and I thought he did well.
“He went to sleep a little bit at times, Chris once he hurt him he could have kept his attacks.
“He was looking for one, too many big shots.
“He could have kept peppering him with slightly lighter shots and then picked one out, but that’s all experience”
“He hasn’t had any experience really with the small gloves on.”
McGuigan, who previously trained former unified Cruiserweight world champion, David Haye had arranged sparring for The Gentleman, with the likes of British champion Matty Askin in the run up to the bout and believes that this has instilled huge confidence in him.
He continued: “He’s sparring the likes of Matty Askin, Stephen Simmons. He’s sparred real top guys in the gym and learning all the time there.
“It gives him that confidence and puts him in good stead. That’s what we want to be.
“But it’s just about transferring it into the fight night and I think he did that pretty well tonight.
“He’s 27 and we’ve got to push him on quite quickly now.”
McGuigan is hoping to push his fighter on towards British level match ups and confirmed that he is aiming to stage future fights in Bournemouth, following the success of Friday night.
When asked if Billam-Smith would be fighting in his hometown again, McGuigan said: “Definitely. We want to build a fanbase. That’s the most important thing about coming back here.
“We had the chance of putting him on up in Glasgow last week, but I made sure that he came back here, got his fight on back down here and builds that fanbase because he’s such a likeable lad.
“(We want to) just try and pick up maybe some version of a title and then go for the big guys, domestically but he’s a long way off from the world scene.
“There’s such a gulf in class between British and world level but I feel like we can get him up to British level pretty quickly.”
This rhetoric of hoping to secure titles as rapidly as possible, coincides with what Billam-Smith’s thought process, as he told the Bournemouth Rock after the fight: “I’ve got learning to do.
“I’ve only had five fights, but I’ll be looking for titles towards the end of the year and just (to) keep stepping up in class of opponent.
“A tough opponent tonight gave me rounds which is good. I hurt him every round as well, so I felt comfortable in there.
“So, I’m looking for whatever title it may be, towards the end of the year.”