Home Boxing News Chris Billam-Smith slams Richard Riakporhe for turning down chance to face Jai...

Chris Billam-Smith slams Richard Riakporhe for turning down chance to face Jai Opetaia

Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe after their first fight

WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith 19-1 (13) has accused Richard Riakporhe 17-0 (13) of ducking his mandatory title shot against IBF boss Jai Opetaia 25-0 (19).

Londoner Riakporhe, 34, will challenge Bournemouth’s Billam-Smith, 33, at Selhurst Park Football Ground in Crystal Palace, England.

Riakporhe tried to tell Billam-Smith that there careers were basically the same.

“You’ve done really well and I’ll give you your flowers,” said Riakporhe on The Gloves Are Off. “You know what, if you want roses, I’ll give you that. If you want a white rose, I can give you that too. And I deserve flowers as well. So what flowers you going to give me, Chris?

“In some of the interviews that I hear you do, you undermine me. I’m challenging for a world title, you’re the champion. We’re pretty much level.”

But Billam-Smith, who won the strap against Lawrence Okolie in May last year and defended the belt against Mateusz Masternak in December, was having none of it.

“I’ve said that you’ve improved in some areas, but really you haven’t stepped up,” said Billam-Smith, whose lone loss was to Riakporhe via split decision eight years ago in what was the 10th pro bout for both of them.

“We’re not level. Because I’ve won a world title and defended it. You’ve avoided a world.

“You were mandatory for Jai Opetaia, were you not? So why has that fight not happened before that?

“The fact is the fight didn’t happen. You haven’t fought for a world title until now, so up to this point, who’s had a better career?”

Riakporhe quickly fired back.

“You shouldn’t speak on things that you don’t know,” he said. “You don’t understand about the business side of boxing. It was out of my hands.

“Those who know know because they were involved. I never turned down no fight.

“Me personally, I say we’re equal. We’re equal. The only thing that separates you is you winning that title. But we’re here at this current moment where we’re back again.”

Billam-Smith says he is a big game player who performs better on the big stage and under the bright lights.

“I love that if there’s more pressure on me, then brilliant,” he said. “I said that last year there was no more pressure in my career than that fight [against Okolie], so I loved it and I loved the pressure.

“And for me there’s a huge amount of pressure on me in this fight because there’s a legacy at stake.

“I think he’s a massive step up from where he’s been in terms of headlining, the type of opponent, the experience that his opponents have had in the past and where they’re at in their career.

“This is a very, very hungry version of me. You never have a complete fighter, but I’m a much better fighter than I was last time, that’s for sure, and much better than anyone he’s faced. I think it is a big, big leap in levels.”