Chris Billam-Smith wins grueling split decision over Tommy McCarthy
In the build-up to this dust-up, EBU European cruiserweight champion Tommy “Mac Attack” McCarthy (18-3, 9 KO’s) thought he’d be the much more advanced fighter. In his opinion, Commonwealth cruiserweight champion Chris “The Gentleman” Billam-Smith (13-1, 10 KO’s) was simply not on his level. Once in the ring, this turned out not to be the truth as Billam-Smith bested McCarthy by split decision victory. Along with the Mac Attack’s EBU European title the Gentleman also nabbed the vacant BBB of C British cruiserweight title.
The loss snapped a five-fight win streak that McCarthy had been enjoying since his March 2, 2019 loss to Richard Riakporhe. Ahead of this prizefight the Gentleman was ranked #4 (WBA), #9 (IBF) and #13 (WBC). There is little doubt that these standings will shift for the better in the coming days/weeks. For his part, the Mac Attack was ranked #3 (WBA), #4 (IBF), #6 (WBC) and #15 (WBO) going into the contest.
NIP AND TUCK BATTLE
The majority of the first round was a hard-to-watch, clinched-filled affair. Chris Billam-Smith was trying to walk McCarthy down but, as they hadn’t found their range, they kept locking up. Little noteworthy action took place until the final 20 seconds when Mac Attack landed a big overhand right. The blow clearly hurt Billam-Smith and forced him into retreat. Luckily for him, a clinch soaked up the remaining time in the round.
By the third period The Gentleman was fully recovered and resumed pressing the action. McCarthy, with hands held fairly low, had settled into a counterpunching frame of mind. This allowed Billam-Smith to lead and land more shots, only now he was paying more attention to the body. Both men were connecting with solid blows regularly, but now each was absorbing them well.
In the final 30 seconds of the fourth, The Gentlemen seemed to lose a gear while Mac Attack was bouncing on his toes. McCarthy was also throwing his own combinations to the belly and ribs. Despite this, Billam-Smith enjoyed by far his best round in the fifth. While no decisive punch landed, McCarthy acted as if he were hurt early on and fluttered back to the ropes. Once against the straps The Gentleman pounded on him for a large chunk of the round. Then, at the conclusion of the sixth, Mac Attack suffered a cut over his right eye due to a clash of heads.
OVER THE LONG HAUL
The cut, which was a bloody mess in the seventh, was a nonfactor in the eighth. Overall the eighth was a tit-for-tat round until Billam-Smith landed a pair of hooks that seemed to cause McCarthy a bit of issue. From there the action remained fairly close through the final round.
For the twelfth, The Gentleman started the period by taking his foot off the gas slightly. Yet, over the final two minutes, the two men traded punches trying to close the show strong. While the two boxers landed well neither were hurt nor rocked in the final three minutes. When the scorecards were read, Chris Billam-Smith walked away with a hard-fought split decision victory. This is obviously a devastating setback for Tommy McCarthy.
By: Bakari Simpson