Home Boxing News Chris Billam-Smith wants to unify against Jai Opetaia after Richard Riakporhe fight...

Chris Billam-Smith wants to unify against Jai Opetaia after Richard Riakporhe fight this weekend

Chris Billam-Smith. Photo credit: Lawrence Lustig

WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith 19-1 (13) is already plotting his next move days out from his world title defence against Richard Riakporhe 17-0 (13) at Selhurst Park in Crystal Palace, England this Saturday night.

In his sights is Ring Magazine and IBF champion Jai Opetaia 25-0 (19) who is fresh off his second win over ex-champ Mairis Briedis 28-3 (20) last month.

The 28-year-old Australian southpaw fought through two fractures to his jaw in his epic battle against Latvian veteran Briedis, 39, to win the world title via unanimous decision in July 2022 and repeated the result in their rematch.

The only other man to defeat Briedis is former undisputed cruiserweight champion, current undisputed heavyweight champion and consensus pound-for-pound king Oleksandr Usyk 22-0 (14).

Billam-Smith, who is The Ring’s number one contender at 200-pounds, says that’s who he wants next.

“I think it’s the biggest fight in the division at the moment,” Billam-Smith said to Sky Sports. “It would be great to get that fight done. It would be amazing if we could do it for an undisputed world title, for all four of the belts.

“I think that’s the big one. I’ve got a job to do but down the line definitely, it’s a huge fight and the biggest fight in the division.

“He ticks a lot of boxes, he’s got good footwork, really good timing, good speed, good shot selection there, he’s super tough as well, obviously you’ve seen him fight with a broken jaw.

“He’s a really, really talented fighter and, like I said, ticks a lot of boxes. So it would be great if we could could fight down the line.”

First he will have to get past his old rival Riakporhe, who defeated him on points five years ago.

“Really me and Richard are the last two of the current crop of [British] cruiserweights,” the 33-year-old Billam-Smith said. “So Richard is the last one on the current British cruiserweight hit list. And I’ve just got to get over the line.”

“After we get this out of the way and a mandatory challenger out of the way then I’ll look to unify, that’s the big goal for me.

“I’d love to fight out in America. That’s kind of another dream, as it is for any boxer, to fight out in America, whether that’s Vegas or New York or LA or whatever. I’m not. I’m not too picky.

“Just to get the opportunity to go out there and to do a whole camp out there and fight out in America would be phenomenal.”

Ukrainian southpaw Usyk, 37, has flagged a return to cruiserweight next year after his heavyweight rematch with Tyson Fury 34-1-1 (24) in December, a move that would shine the spotlight on the often maligned cruiserweight division.

“It’s a great division, there’s a lot of depth to it,” said Billam-Smith. “Over the last few years the champions and belts have changed hands a few times, there’s a lot of talent in the division.

“It’s exciting because the weight we fight at now is probably similar to what Muhammed Ali was getting in the ring at, whereas now sometimes the heavyweights are almost too big. It’s a really great division that I’m honoured to be part of.”