Riakporhe: Okolie will need a KO to beat Billam-Smith

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Cruiserweight contender Richard Riakporhe wants to fight the Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith winner later this year.

In his Bournemouth hometown on Saturday, Billam-Smith challenges Okolie for the WBO cruiserweight world title, live on Sky Sports.

Riakporhe, who has previously boxed Billam-Smith and has already developed a heated rivalry with Okolie himself, has established himself as cruiserweight contender, particularly with his dominant win over Krzysztof Glowacki in January.

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Boxxer CEO Ben Shalom says Okolie’s new, more aggressive style could work in favour of Billam-Smith

He has positioned himself for a world title shot and would relish taking it against a rival Briton in 2023. He will be ringside when Billam-Smith and Okolie fight at the Vitality Stadium, ready to call out the victor.

I’m really interested to see who’s going to come out the winner because I’m planning to fight the winner some time this year,” Riakporhe told Sky Sports News.

“I believe I can beat both of them on the same night, both of them by knockout.

“I’m not planning to go 12 rounds I’m telling you that.”

He in fact believes that Okolie will need a knockout to beat Billam-Smith in Bournemouth.

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Okolie says he is ready to defend his throne against Billam-Smith and is preparing for a hard fight

“He knows he has to come there and really put on a big performance and to be honest he’s going to have to go for a knockout, he’s going to need a knockout to make sure,” Riakporhe said.

“I think if it goes the distance Chris Billam-Smith will come out on top on points. I think he will win on points, me personally.”

Riakporhe explained: “I think it’s going to be a tricky one and the reason why, his former coach [Shane McGuigan] is training Chris Billam-Smith which makes it even more interesting.

“He’s going to know all of the weaknesses and how to exploit that with his man Chris Billam-Smith. So I’m really interested to see how this pans out.

“For [Okolie] to win this fight, he’s going to have to knockout Chris Billam-Smith, take it in his hands, don’t leave it in the judges’ hands. I think that’s the most intelligent thing to do. But at the same time it’s easier said than done.

“They’ve definitely got a plan, Shane McGuigan and Barry McGuigan are very intelligent, they come with good strategies for the fighters and I think Chris Billam-Smith is the man for the job. He can do it. He can take shots, he can give it, he can dish it out.”

Okolie only defended his title in March and so had to go straight into an eight-week training camp. Riakporhe believes this fight is coming too soon for him and that Okolie has put himself under pressure.

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Ahead of this weekend’s WBO cruiserweight clash between Okolie and Billam-Smith, check out some of the best British world title fights to have taken place on Sky Sports

“He hasn’t given himself a lot of time to rectify his faults. In the last fight he was doing the same thing – a lot of punching and holding from round one. I think he’s going to get penalised,” Riakporhe said.

“In the last fight he got one point deducted and if Shane McGuigan and Chris Billam-Smith come up with a decent plan and he starts to hold from early and he gets deducted three points, three warnings, that’s it, I think he would actually lose.

“I think that they are going to definitely make sure that he’s not doing any holding because Lawrence Okolie’s known for holding after he throws his punches.

“I’m guessing that they’ve definitely protested that to the referee to make sure that doesn’t happen. That’s going to leave [Okolie] at a disadvantage because he’s won a lot of fights doing hitting and holding, hitting and grabbing type of style.

“Respect to Lawrence Okolie, he’s put a lot of pressure on himself and I think it’s going to be harder than he has actually envisioned.”

Don’t miss Lawrence Okolie vs Chris Billam-Smith live on Sky Sports Action and Sky Showcase from 7pm on Saturday night.

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