Chris Billam-Smith overcame a tricky start to flatten Armend Xhoxhaj in the fifth of their scheduled twelve round cruiserweight contest at the Bournemouth International Centre.
Billam-Smith (17-1, 12 KOs), who overcame Isaac Chamberlain in July arrived in his hometown on the cusp of a world title shot, with IBF champion Jai Opetaia mooted, and he was in search of a straightforward win to try and move towards that fight in 2023. Xhoxhaj (14-3, 7 KOs) had been stopped in both of his previous defeats, but had won two since an October 2021 stoppage defeat to Mateusz Masternak.
It was a lively start, and Xhoxhaj landed a right hand that made Billam-Smith’s knees dip in the second, but he quickly regained his senses, only to eat a big uppercut towards the end in what was a big round for the Kosovan.
The visitor smelt an upset, but the Bournemouth native had a much better third, and once he got his jab working, he was much more assured, and the end came in quick fashion.
An uppercut in round five unsettled Xhoxhaj, and he then walked onto a combination and a massive right hook, that flattened him, and a count was most definitely not required.
Azeez halts Fielding
Dan Azeez retained his British light heavyweight title, and added the vacant Commonwealth crown, as he stopped former world champion, Rocky Fielding in eight rounds.
The belts were on the line for Azeez only, as Fielding missed weight.
The challenger was cut early on, and the action was close quarters stuff in the main.
The champion’s jab was superb, snapping the 35-year-old’s head back at regular intervals, and he was dominant in the exchanges.
After halfway, Azeez began to assert himself, and right at the end of the seventh, a straight body shot had Fielding on the floor.
The 33-year-old went for the jugular at the start of round eight, and midway through the round, Fielding finally wilted, a punishing Azeez attack forcing the towel to come in from the Liverpudlian’s corner.
Dubois takes out Rodriguez
Caroline Dubois (5-0, 4 KOs) again impressed, as she took out Sofia Rodriguez (5-8, 1 KO) inside a round at super lightweight.
Dubois unloaded sledgehammer shots in the corner, and the referee had no choice but to call a halt to the action.
— BOXXER (@boxxer) December 17, 2022
First stuns Gibbs
In a bizarre lightweight contest, 41-year-old Jimmy First (14-0, 4 KOs) won the battle of unbeatens, taking an eight round points win over Cori Gibbs, whose gum shield cost him at least a draw.
Gibbs (17-1, 3 KOs) was deducted three points in total for repeatedly spitting out his gum shield, and First (14-0, 4 KOs) ran out a 76-73 winner for the referee.
Beating Corri Gibbs on a week’s notice at the age of 41! ⚡
— Sky Sports Boxing (@SkySportsBoxing) December 17, 2022
Robinson KO’s Campbell
Steve Robinson (6-1, 4 KOs) breathed new life into his career, as he won a heavyweight slugfest against Nick Campbell (5-1, 5 KOs).
A tiring Campbell was down twice in the fourth of their scheduled eight rounder after dominating the first three rounds, and he was eventually stopped on his feet right at the end of the frame.
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McKinson back to winning ways
Michael McKinson (23-1, 2 KOs) returned from defeat in his last fight to Vergil Ortiz Jr, as he took a 59-55 win over six rounds against Roberto Arriaza (19-5, 14 KOs).
Lee Cutler (12-1, 7 KOs) banked six decent rounds at super welterweight, taking a 60-54 verdict on the referee’s card against Joel Julio (39-14, 33 KOs).
At lightweight, Mace Ruegg (8-0) secured another points win, as he overcame Jahfieus Faure (1-10-1), and at super welterweight, Harvey Lambert (1-0, 1 KO) marked his debut with a second round stoppage of Sebastian Wojtan (1-7, 1 KO).