Richard Riakporhe should fight for a world title next and talks are underway to match him with Ilunga Makabu, the WBC belt-holder.
Riakporhe impressed with his two-round demolition of Fabio Turchi earlier this month and is now well placed as the eighth-ranked challenger in the WBC’s world ratings.
Makabu became a two-time WBC champion in 2020 when he won back their belt. He boxed most recently in January, beating Thabiso Mchunu on a split decision.
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“It should be a world title shot [next for Riakporhe]. We have mentioned the ideal opponent for him is Makabu, he wants that WBC belt,” BOXXER promoter Ben Shalom told Sky Sports News.
“I think it’s a great fight, we’re due to speak to Don King this week, we have been talking about this for a while. That’s the one Richard wants. I even did say to Richard, ‘Do you want one more [bout]?’ He wants the world title next.
“He’s 32 years old now. He feels like he’s gone through every single level and I think people know that he’s ready, they can see that he’s ready and it’s just about making the fight now.”
The European cruiserweight champion, Chris Billam-Smith, is gunning for the winner of that potential contest.
He wants revenge for a close split-decision loss to Riakporhe in 2019.
“It was exactly that, a real close fight. Since then obviously I’ve gone unbeaten and picked up plenty of titles and had some good results along the way,” Billam-Smith told Sky Sports.
“I’d love the rematch. Any boxer that’s got a loss on their record would love to rematch and avenge that loss. I would love that. I think eventually we’ll end up doing it with at least one world title on the line. That’s how I see it going. I think that makes sense for both of us.”
Billam-Smith feels he was unlucky with that decision. “We thought I’d won the fight comfortably. I think my corner, who are usually pretty harsh on me, had me up two rounds,” he said.
“A lot of the work I did in that fight was in close. Because if you stand at length with Richard, you’re in the wrong sport. You don’t want to be standing at length with him. So that was my idea to get inside and do my work there. I think it maybe got missed by some of the judges in some of the rounds and also there was knockdown in round seven which the ref scored. I don’t believe it was a knockdown.
“He hit me with a half-decent shot then pushed me over the ropes. I was still on my feet. When I turned back around I thought the ref was still tidying things up, he started counting me. I was shocked. You can see that in my reaction. So that was the decision that stopped it being a draw.”
Since that fight Billam-Smith has continually impressed, outpointing Tommy McCarthy and then stopping him in a rematch, winning the European cruiserweight title in the process.
To continue his progress he must defeat Isaac Chamberlain on July 30, live on Sky Sports.
Billam-Smith doesn’t believe Riakporhe has developed in the same way he has.
“He’s a little bit tidier with his work but it’s still the same Richard to me. He still relies on punch power and there’s not much that comes off it. He’s obviously a very good puncher, which he always has been, even when I boxed him and he does the basics well. Maybe he’s overrated, maybe he’s not,” Billam-Smith said.
“Truthfully I don’t think much has changed. He just might be a little bit tidier now. I just don’t think he’s improved as much I have, especially since we boxed. The improvements I’ve made are tenfold over his improvements.”
Chris Billam-Smith will fight Isaac Chamberlain in Bournemouth, live on Sky Sports on July 30