Chris Billam-Smith: Richard Riakporhe not 'the monster' he's made out to be, says WBO cruiserweight champion

February 27, 2024

Chris Billam-Smith is readying himself to defend his WBO cruiserweight world title against old rival Richard Riakporhe.

London's Riakporhe is the No 1 rated challenger for the WBO belt and the champion expects that fight to be next.

"We're just working on it now. Where and when," he told Sky Sports.

"I'm looking forward to us getting it over the line and getting it announced. I'm really, really excited about that fight."

It has an added appeal for Billam-Smith. The Bournemouth man may now be a world champion but Riakporhe is the only man to hold a professional win over him and Billam-Smith wants his revenge.

"I've always wanted to be in big domestic fights and my career's proven that. My good mate George Groves, obviously being a massive fan of him, watching him in the [James] DeGale and the [Carl] Froch fights.

"They're the [kind of] fights that always get remembered and that's the fights you get into boxing for, when you're a fan, is watching those big fights, those rivalries. They're usually domestic rivalries.

"They're the fights you want to be in. But also he's earned his shot. Some people think he can beat me and I look forward to proving them wrong."

Riakporhe has built up his momentum recording stunning stoppage wins, most recently halting Dylan Bregeon in just two rounds.

But Billam-Smith contends that there is less to Riakporhe's power than meets the eye. "It wasn't a big knockout though was it? [Bregeon] got stopped on his feet. That's the thing that people forget," Billam-Smith said of his rival.

"Look, Richard can punch. His best win's [Krzysztof] Glowacki but what did he have left really, after Lawrence and after Covid and whatever and inactivity?"

Billam-Smith insisted: "He's not the monster everyone makes him out to be. I think he's a threat, of course. He's got punch power. But he's not the monster everyone makes him out to be."

In fact, the WBO champion believes that Riakporhe's power is his weakness, because he depends too much on it in his fights.

"Deion Jumah, who he stopped in eight rounds in the end, he was losing a lot of the rounds. So he's reliant on his punch power. If he can't stop someone he'll probably get beat by them and that's how I see him," Billam-Smith said.

"If he doesn't knock you out he's probably losing eight of the rounds. He needs the power to get knockdowns if he's not finishing people."

He contrasted Riakporhe with Lawrence Okolie, whom Billam-Smith beat to win the world title.

"Whereas Lawrence is someone, if he doesn't knock you out, is in a messy fight but he still wins the rounds and most of the time wins eight of the 12 rounds. Whereas Richard's not that fighter," the Bournemouth man said.

"Lawrence knew how to win when he couldn't knock someone out. I don't think Richard really knows that at the top level.

"I never look at boxing for the hype, I try and look for the substance in what it is. That's what makes me very, very confident going into the fight."

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