CHRIS Billam-Smith says trainer Shane McGuigan spotting a rib issue for Mateusz Masternak played a key role in his victory on Sunday night.

Billam-Smith was behind on the scorecards heading into round eight, with the experienced Pole producing an impressive display.

But the Bournemouth favourite was working his way back into the contest at the BIC, hurting Masternak with some blows to the body in round seven.

The Gentleman did enough damage to stop Masternak from emerging from his corner at the beginning of the following round, as Billam-Smith retained his WBO cruiserweight title, moving his pro record to 19-1.

“I said he would be my hardest fight to date and I think he proved that,” Billam-Smith told Sky Sports.

“I made it hard for myself, to be honest.

“I was trying to hard to land one big shot and then the finishing shot that did the rib was a double jab, right hook, left hook to the body. It was the right hook that did it.”

Asked if he knew he had done Masternak damage with that combo, the 33-year-old added: “I knew I’d hurt him, because he slowed right down after that.

“Shane saw it in the build-up, that he had problems with his rib, just as we were in the ring.

“He said ‘his rib’s gone, he’s got a lump on his left rib, so target him with the right hand’.

“That ended the fight, so he knows what he’s talking about, believe it or not!”