Home Boxing News Chris Billam-Smith retains WBO cruiserweight title against Richard Riakporhe in a snoozer

Chris Billam-Smith retains WBO cruiserweight title against Richard Riakporhe in a snoozer

Chris Billam-Smith vs Richard Riakporhe in their rematch. Photo credit: Sky Sports

WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith 20-1 (13 KOs) retained his title with a unanimous decision over Richard Riakporhe 17-1, 13 KOs) on Saturday night at Selhurst Park Football Ground in Crystal Palace, England on Saturday night.

Tactically, it was a good fight from Billam-Smith, but it certainly wasn’t pretty. The slow-paced affair consisted of the champion largely throwing single shots and the challenger barely throwing at all. Clinches were rife in the contest.

Riakporhe was docked a point in the final round for using his head, but by then it was all academic. Billam-Smith won by scores of 116-111 and 115-112 twice.

“That was closer than I thought,” said Billam-Smith. “The right man won. Rich is a great fighter.”

According to CompuBox, Riakporhe landed in single figures in seven of the twelve rounds. Billam-Smith landed in single figures in five.

Yes folks, it was that style of fight.

“[It was] very satisfying,” Billam-Smith said. “I liked to think I boxed it to a ‘T’. I’m really proud with the performance. Experience, speed and the gameplan was the difference.

“Forget all the build-up. I’ve got a lot of respect for Richard he’s a great fighter, he just needed a little bit more experience and he’ll learn from that.”

He added: “He got me once, he can punch with his right hand but the game plan was spot on from [trainer] Shane [McGuigan] and I executed it.

“I thought I should have won it 8-4 at worst, he didn’t really catch me. Richard will learn from that and go on to greater things.”

The fight was rematch of their July 2019 encounter that Riakporhe won by split decision after 10 heats.

Billam-Smith said his next goal is to fight in the United States. The obvious opponent would be Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez 46-1 (30), who recently moved up in weight to claim the WBA 200-pound title.

“Vegas, baby!” said Billam-Smith when asked what’s next. “If we can get a Zurdo fight in America, take me stateside, let’s go there.”

Before the fight, Billam-Smith said he would like to face Ring Magazine and IBF champion Jai Opetaia 25-0 (19), but the Australian southpaw’s name was largely absent from his mouth in the post-fight interview.

“I think it’s the biggest fight in the division at the moment,” Billam-Smith told Sky Sports pre-fight. “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.”