by Jonathan Nagioff (@JonathanNagioff)
Cruiserweight Chris Billam-Smith says his training in the famous 5th Street Gym proved fundamental as he beat Kent Kauppinen on Saturday night.
The Bournemouth man had been training out in Miami at 5th Street Gym with trainer Shane McGuigan and stablemate Luke Campbell ahead of Saturday’s showdown.
Billam-Smith (8-0-0) produced a late onslaught to stop Kauppinen (1-7-0) and record an eighth successive professional victory.
The gym is well renowned amongst the boxing community with the legendary Muhammad Ali being the most notable fighter to have trained there.
And Billam-Smith believes the experience in Florida will stand him in good stead for the future.
Billam-Smith told Nerve Sport: “It was good out there.
“It was obviously so hot, so it puts you outside your comfort zone, so it was a good trip out there.
“(I’ve) just been working on getting my feet going a bit more and moving in and out of range rather than like my last fight (where) I just walked him down, knew he couldn’t hurt me and just took shots on the gloves and just tried to get rid of him and then it took me five rounds to get rid of him.
“At the end of the fifth he pulled out. If I boxed better, I could probably have done it earlier.
“So just making a few adaptations, getting the feet going a bit better and it’s all starting to come together a bit and I’m feeling very confident.
“My fitness is fine. Obviously, it’s only a six rounder tonight but I felt fine the whole way through.
“To stop him like that in the last (round) with a decent finish, putting my shots together and felt very fit and looking forward to doing ten and twelve rounders next year.”
The former Poole ABC prodigy, who is trained by Shane McGugian insists he is learning from his stablemates in the gym, in particular Olympic Gold medallist Luke Campbell and Light welterweight Josh Taylor.
McGuigan’s Gym also boasts former world champion George Groves and Billam-Smith explained he appreciates the calibre of fighters he is training alongside.
He added: “(Trainer Shane McGuigan) he just said box, so I just got behind my jab and I knew he was going to lunge in at some point, so it was just trying to walk him on to that because as he’d come in, he’d open up, so (the plan was) just trigger him and make him commit and then step back and make him walk on to a shot.
“I’ve got people like Luke Campbell in the gym and he does that very well, he walks people on to a shot, so I’ve learnt a lot of that from watching Luke and then rattling off my shots from the likes of Josh Taylor in the gym, at the end there to get the finish.
“So, I’m learning from everyone in the gym all the time, including Shane but also watching all the other great fighters that I’m surrounded by.”
The 28-year-old also sparred light heavyweight talent Joshua Buatsi again in the lead up to Saturday’s battle with Kauppinen.
The pair shared the ring in the run up to Billam-Smith’s bout with Robin Dupre at York Hall in October and the Bournemouth man predicts Buatsi, who fights on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s heavyweight rematch with Dereck Chisora on Saturday, to become a world champion.
He continued: “I think me and Josh (Buatsi) are great work for each other.
“Obviously, he’s a light heavyweight but he’s quick and he can punch.
“He puts his shots together very well and he’s a strong, strong light heavyweight.
“I’ll be very surprised if he doesn’t become a world champion.
“We both really appreciate each other’s work. He said to me no one’s as busy as you at cruiserweight and I think it shows to get someone out there in the sixth round whose as tough as that lad.
“I was catching him with all shots, caught him with a nice short right hand early on, hit him with the left hook in the first round. I hit him with a good variety of shots, the uppercut.
“I know he’s dropped a couple of people on the way through as well and you can see why people switch off against him.
“So, all respect to the guy, he’s a tough bloke and he kept me on my toes tonight.”