Chris Billam-Smith targets Gilberto Ramirez world title unification after Richard Riakporhe triumph

June 16, 2024

Chris Billam-Smith settled his score with Richard Riakporhe, avenging his only previous professional defeat and defending the WBO cruiserweight world title for a second time.

It was his second world title fight at a Premier League football stadium against a British rival.

Now he has set his sights on a trip overseas and becoming a unified champion.

Gilberto Ramirez, the WBA cruiserweight titlist, is the opponent he wants next and he's willing to go to the US to make that fight.

"I'd be really honoured. It would be crazy to make more memories out there," Billam-Smith told Sky Sports News.

"I want to fight in America. Every Brit's dream is obviously to fight in their home football team's stadium and then go to America. Ricky Hatton had it.

"'Zurdo' Ramirez is the WBA champion. I would love that belt, that's the one George Groves won. I would love to fight him [Ramirez] out there, he fights out there so that makes it a possibility."

Billam-Smith first won the WBO world title in his Bournemouth hometown when he upset Lawrence Okolie at the Vitality stadium.

This weekend he travelled to Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium to take on Riakporhe at his club.

Once again it was Billam-Smith who rose to the occasion. That prior experience against Okolie at the Vitality stadium helped him but so did: "Everything through my career. The experience and the tough fights, the bad performances, the good performances.

"The experience I had being around George Groves, Luke Campbell, Josh Taylor. Barry McGuigan comes and watches most spars, if not all of them, when you've got that knowledge around you and that experience around you, you're constantly learning and that's why the gym has so much success because we've got that conveyor belt of champions."

Ultimately Billam-Smith took a clear unanimous decision over Riakporhe, nullifying his challenger's fearsome punch-power over the course of a rough 12 rounds.

"The gameplan was perfect," he said. "[Felt] really comfortable throughout. Had loads of energy left. The gameplan was don't waste energy, don't try and force the fight.

"He had a good start to the fight. He jabbed really well. I wasn't moving enough. He was jabbing really well, then I started to get my movement in.

"I respect Richard. I've got a lot of respect for the fans," he added. "We're all Palace fans this summer, they've got plenty of players in the England team.

"A massive thank you to everyone who supported me. You've given me dreams back home and you've supported me away."

For Billam-Smith his world title dreams just keep on getting bigger. He's beaten his best rivals in Britain, fought in a stadium twice over. Now he wants to conquer America, and he wants Gilberto Ramirez next.

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