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Chris Billam-Smith calls for Jai Opetaia world title fight next: 'Come over to England, let's get it done at the football stadium!'

Chris Billam-Smith has called out the top boxer in the division, Jai Opetaia for a world championship fight in Bournemouth; Billam-Smith reflects on the fanbase that will secure him the fight he craves and the power-punching finish that proves he can be a threat to anyone

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Highlights of the main event fight between Chris Billam-Smith and Armend Xhoxhaj at the Bournemouth International Centre

Chris Billam-Smith has come further than anyone expected.

He did not turn professional as a stellar amateur. He was not for instance an Olympian seemingly destined for success.

But through a hard, solid career he has worked his way up step by step, winning British, Commonwealth and European cruiserweight titles, bouncing back from defeat and all the while building a vociferous and ever-expanding fanbase.

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Chris Billam-Smith lands an explosive finish on Armend Xhoxhaj to knockout the Kosovan in the fifth round

After beating Armend Xhoxhaj at a packed Bournemouth International Centre on Saturday night with a stunning knockout, he is in a position now where he can command a shot at world title.

Billam-Smith has called out IBF champion Jai Opetaia, who became the top boxer in the division when he toppled Mairis Briedis earlier this year.

"I have no words," Billam-Smith told Sky Sports. "Not many people thought I'd be at this stage and on the cusp of a world title.

"So it's been a crazy journey. But it's not over."

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Chris Billam-Smith says he is is targeting a world title fight in 2023 after beating Armend Xhoxhaj in Bournemouth

Billam-Smith wants to bring that Opetaia fight to his local team's football stadium in Bournemouth.

His message to Opetaia: "Come over to England, it's a nice part of the world and let's get it done at the football stadium.

"I cannot imagine what it will be like, once again it's going to be at least four times as many people as were here tonight. Hopefully it's an unbelievable atmosphere."

Even though Xhoxhaj is virtually unknown in the UK, Billam-Smith received a tremendous reception at the arena in his hometown.

"Incredible. I'm so, so grateful for the fans. We're back here because of them," he said.

"The fight was great but the atmosphere was 10 times as good as the fight and that's saying something, it was a great fight.

"They're just unbelievable."

He did have some problems in the early rounds of the contest. "He caught me with a couple of shots in the second round. I was with it, compos mentis. Just switched off," Billam-Smith explained.

Billam-Smith catches Xhoxhaj
Image: Chris Billam-Smith has called for a stadium fight with Jai Opetaia next (Photos: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER)

"Barry McGuigan always said if you get hit with a first shot make sure you don't get hit with a second and that's what I made sure I was doing. He was catching me with one shot and another one was coming so I made sure I was getting out of the way of that.

"He was tough. We were aware of that. His name wasn't known, probably a lot of boxing people wouldn't really know of him or much about him. But still the fans turned out and we were aware of the dangers by watching him of what he could do.

"We got the job done."

Billam-Smith fights up close
Image: Billam-Smith takes the fight up close

The spectacular display of power-punching Billam-Smith deployed was a warning shot. He can be a threat to anyone if he lands like that.

"We've been working on connecting everything together and literally just before I hurt him, I was literally consciously thinking connect the body," Billam-Smith said.

"I connected it and hit him with one shot and stayed connected throughout the finish."

"There's a belt missing from the collection," he added. "That's what I'm focused on now - completing the collection."

The world title fight has to come next.

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