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Billam-Smith: Riakporhe not ‘the monster’ he’s made out to be

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.

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WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith joins Sky Sports’ Andy Scott to reflect on his nervy win against Mateusz Masternak after he defeated the Polish fighter in his title defence

“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.

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Highlights of Chris Billam-Smith’s stoppage win over Mateusz Masternak to retain his world title

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.

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Watch Richard Riakporhe’s ringside reaction to Chris Billam-Smith’s win over Mateusz Masternak

“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.

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Highlights of Richard Riakporhe’s devastating win by TKO over Dylan Bregeon inside two rounds

“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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