BOXXER founder and promoter Ben Shalom labelled the success of recent events in Bournemouth as “ridiculous”, adding: “I’ve never had a show that sells out that quickly.”

Hometown favourite Chris Billam-Smith is set to return to action tomorrow night, defending his WBO cruiserweight title against Mateusz Masternak at the Bournemouth International Centre.

It will be the fourth time BOXXER have put on a show in Bournemouth headlined by Billam-Smith in the past 18 months, with two at the BIC and a memorable night at Vitality Stadium earlier this year.

In May, Billam-Smith stunned Lawrence Okolie to become world champion courtesy of a majority decision from the judges.

Discussing Sunday’s show at the BIC, which also features Lee Cutler, Ben Whittaker and Lauren Price, Shalom told the Daily Echo: “It’s ridiculous, when you think about where it started and he (Billam-Smith) wasn’t even really European level at that point, incredible.

“To be defending a world title, in Bournemouth, sold out six weeks ago. I’ve never had a show that sells out that quickly.

“I’d love to have the stadium every time, but we’ve only got it in the summer.

“Honestly, even for this event, I would’ve been confident with the stadium.

“They love him. This is their guy, on the world stage now, having a Bournemouth world champion, it’s pretty special.

“It’s amazing. It will a special atmosphere again on Sunday.”

Asked how he sees the main event going, Shalom said: “I’m expecting a war. I’m expecting an absolute battle.

“When you look at Masternak, he has literally had more knockouts than Chris Billam-Smith has had fights.

“He’s been waiting for this moment for a long time. I think he’s been stopped once in his whole career.

“He’s never ever boxing on the back foot and neither is Chris Billam-Smith. I almost see Masternak as an older Billam-Smith.

“They’ve got a very similar style. I see a great fight.

“I know Masternak has had a long time to prepare for this as well, so he’s really ready for Sunday night. I see a great fight and a lot closer fight than most people think.”

Bournemouth Echo:

He added: “If you’d have said Chris Billam-Smith against Masternak before the Okolie fight, people would have 100 per cent called it a 50:50, maybe even called Masternak the favourite.

“Chris has had an outstanding performance against Lawrence Okolie and now people are seeing him at world level.

“This is a world level fight. So he’s got to almost have a career-best performance to win.

“It’s a serious fight. First defences are always tricky for anyone. I expect a great, great fight.”

Joe Ashford-Ellis, of K4 Global, who helped put the show together, added: “It’s the fourth big show here and we’ve got the local lads back out, which is great.

“Again another big fight for Chris, if Masternak turns up. I don’t think it’s going to be a walk in the park. Fair play to Chris for taking it and defending, but he loves a challenge and conquers all.

“I think the community are supportive of boxing. I think they love getting out, cheering and showing their support. Luckily for us, it sells tickets.

“The echo and the scream at the BIC, it’s a very different atmosphere, it’s a lot more personal. I think it makes a great evening, a great Christmas do!”

Asked if these big boxing nights have become the highlight of his year, Ashford-Ellis added: “The weirdest thing is I kind of enjoy it more at the end when it’s a success.

“It’s always quite nerve-wracking going through. I have a personal interest in the fighters as well and my local community, so I’m always a bit nervous to be honest.

“Luckily we’ve had three successful events. Let’s make this a fourth.”