Tommy McCarthy vows to "smash" McGuigan fighter Chris Billam-Smith
European, British and Commonwealth Cruiserweight titles: Tommy McCarthy (18-2) v Chris Billam-Smith (13-1) (tonight, live on DAZN)
THREE belts are on the line, there are bragging rights to claim and an old score to settle but the real prize for Tommy McCarthy is getting his name in the world title frame by beating Chris Billam-Smith at the Matchroom Fight Camp tonight.
Billam-Smith is of course trained by former Carl Frampton chief-second Shane McGuigan who, like his fighter, predicts that McCarthy will not last the course.
“Tommy's not the biggest cruiserweight,” said McGuigan.
“He's very skilful, got good movement, sits back well, is very elusive but I think close mid-range size is going to tell as the fight goes on and I can see Chris stopping him in the later rounds.
“This is a massive step for Chris. He wasn't touted to be the best, he didn't go to the Olympics, he wasn't on the national set-up, but we've been working together now four years and he's been progressing gradually. He's maximised him as an athlete throughout and I think this will be a real defining fight for him and will put him on the world scene.”
If the Billam-Smith team are banking on size being the deciding factor they could be in for a shock. McCarthy stands 6'2.5” and Billam-Smith is just half-an-inch taller.
Belfast native McCarthy says his skills and experience will decide the contest.
“Chris is just rolling the dice here,” he said.
“It's a big mistake to take this fight in this stage of his career. I've said it before, he isn't ready for such a big jump, he hasn't been fighting at a good level and he's coming up to my level. I'm going to prove that on Saturday night.
“Chris is a good fighter but he's not on my level. That's not an opinion that's looking at the facts, he hasn't got my experience or boxed at my level. Saturday night I'm going to thump him all over the ring.
“He's been saying he'll KO me; he's been saying the exact same one-liner in every interview – I think I'll stop him in the mid to late-rounds – somebody is saying it to him. He is saying what Shane is saying. I'm coming in here to smash him to bits.”
With 10 stoppage wins in 14 fights, Billam-Smith is the pre-fight favourite. But he is up against a seasoned cruiserweight in McCarthy who has come on leaps and bounds since he beat Fabio Turci in Italy a couple of years ago. That victory gave him the confidence to match his skills and, although he'll have to take a few on the way, he gets the nod to win what should be the fight of the night.