By Jonathan Nagioff (@jonathannagioff)
Chris Billam-Smith has told Nerve Sport that he is ready to fight domestic rival Richard Riakporhe next after seeing a fight with Isaac Chamberlain fall through.
The Bournemouth Cruiserweight was set to battle Chamberlain (10-1-0) on the undercard of Dave Allen’s showdown with Lucas Browne on April 20 at the O2 Arena, but negotiations have stalled and WBA intercontinental champion Riakporhe (9-0-0) is now the top target.
And Billam-Smith (8-0-0) has revealed he almost faced the South Londoner in March, whilst an English title bout with Deion Jumah has also since failed to materialise.
“They got in touch in December,” Billam-Smith, who is trained by Shane McGuigan, told Nerve Sport on March 23 on a potential bout with Riakporhe.
“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 did get offered, I’m not denying but I’d had a little niggle, a shoulder injury so we’d already put back purse bids for the Deion Jumah fight for the English title.
“So we’re not going to take a fight. I respect him enough to not just take a fight on three week’s 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 [McGuigan] 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.”
The unbeaten pair have shared the ring once before in a sparring session. However, Billam-Smith says he can’t draw too much from that experience and is expecting a knockout if they meet.
“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, someone’s probably 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 claimed the WBA intercontinental strap last November after brutally stopping Sam Hyde and followed this up with a swift fourth round knockout of Tommy McCarthy in March.
And the 29-year-old, who is managed by Dillian Whyte, says he has no issue in facing the Bournemouth man next.
Asked if a showdown with Billam-Smith interested him, Riakporhe told Nerve Sport on March 16: “Yeah of course. I don’t know if he’s received offers from my management team, but 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 [McGuigan] is very intelligent, 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, 28, was expected to challenge Riakporhe’s fellow South Londoner Chamberlain on April 20, but promoter Eddie Hearn revealed that Chamberlain rejected terms for the fight.
However, ‘The Gentleman’ says he still wants to face the former Southern Area holder and believes it would be a show-stealer.
Billam-Smith continued: “We want that fight. I know they’ve been in talks with Isaac and its nothing from our side.
“We’ve agreed to terms that Eddie’s put out and to Isaac. I don’t care if it’s first on the bill. Ideally you want to be televised and I believe Eddie would televise it because it’s a great fight.
“It’s an exciting fight and it would probably be fight of the night because of our styles.
“I know this week my team has been speaking to Isaac and there seems to be a few hiccups coming from their side, so I don’t know if they want the fight now or what that is.”
Promoter Eddie Hearn has targeted a fight between Billam-Smith and Riakporhe for June, live on Sky Sports.
And Nerve Sport understands Billam-Smith is set to sign a co-promotional deal with Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing alongside his current team, Barry McGuigan’s Cyclone Promotions for his next three fights to be shown on Sky Sports.
Stay tuned across Nerve Sport for an official announcement on Chris Billam-Smith’s next fight.