Photo credit: Jonathan Nagioff, Nerve Sport boxing correspondent
Written by Jonathan Nagioff (@jonathannagioff)
Bournemouth cruiserweight Chris Billam-Smith will face South London’s Richard Riakporhe live on Sky Sports on July 20th.
The unbeaten pair have long been touted for a huge domestic match-up and will be first on the bill, on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s must-win heavyweight battle against Oscar Rivas.
Riakporhe’s WBA intercontinental title will be on the line at the O2 Arena in a potentially decisive fight in the Cruiserweight division.
The winner is expected to be in line for a shot at Lawrence Okolie’s British title.
Billam-Smith, trained by Shane McGuigan, has recorded eight successive victories since turning professional in 2017.
This includes a victory over former Commonwealth title challenger Robin Dupre in a career best win last October. The Bournemouth puncher will fight for his first professional title.
Riakporhe, who is managed by Dillian Whyte and trained by Mark Tibbs, claimed the WBA strap with a brutal stoppage win over Sam Hyde. The South Londoner followed this up with a swift fourth round KO of Tommy McCarthy in front of the Sky Sports cameras in March to record his ninth straight win.
The pair have been the distance on only one occasion each, racking up 15 knockouts between them.
Billam-Smith, 28, nicknamed ‘The Gentleman’, told Nerve Sport he is expecting a knockout when they meet.
Speaking on a fight with Riakporhe, Billam-Smith said on March 23: “They got in touch in December, but I’d had a fight lined up obviously in Bournemouth and I’d already done a lot of tickets.
“So then at about two weeks’ notice, we got offered to take this fight (against Riakporhe). Two or three weeks’ notice we got offered to fight him on March 2nd, when he boxed Tommy McCarthy.
“So we’re not going to take a fight. I respect him enough to not just take a fight on three weeks’ notice when I’m carrying a slight niggle, but that is definitely a fight that’s going to happen, could even happen next.
“Me and Shane were speaking about it yesterday, so that fight could happen next. I’ve got a lot of respect for Richard. He obviously carries a lot of power as he’s shown.
“We sparred three rounds before, but you couldn’t take anything from that.
“But he’s a name in the division, he’s got a belt and he’s proven himself like I say with the Sam Hyde fight.
“I’ve said before he was getting beat, I think that’s fair to say he was getting beat in that fight and he pulled out a punch but that’s because he carries that power so that would be a great fight, especially with our records probably someone’s getting chinned.
“Someone’s 0 [zero losses record] has got to go and looking at the records you wouldn’t bet on it going to points but that’s a great fight.”
Riakporhe, 29, also confirmed the fight has been brewing for some time and has previously told Nerve Sport he would have no issue in fighting the Bournemouth man.
Riakporhe said: “We wanted him straight after the Sam Hyde fight. I think he’s a very skilful opponent.
“I think that’ll be a decent fight. I think if he comes to fight that’ll be a good fight.
“But yeah whenever he’s ready to fight, tell him to get in touch. Shane is very intelligent, very intelligent man, he knows the business but I’m available.
“If they want to make that fight happen, even next just get them to contact my team and let’s make it happen. No problem.
“There’s a lot to fight for, there’s a WBA intercontinental title.
“But I’ll understand if they don’t want that fight for now, that’s fair enough but in the future, it’ll be a good fight, I reckon it’ll be a really good fight.”
Billam-Smith, a former Poole ABC prodigy, has not fought since December when he stopped Kent Kauppinen at Boscombe’s O2 academy.
He also saw a fight with Isaac Chamberlain for April fall through, but will now face his fellow South Londoner Riakporhe in a huge night at the O2.
Stay tuned across Nerve Sport for all the build-up for Chris Billam-Smith vs Richard Riakporhe!