Riakporhe to Billam-Smith: You were better five years ago!

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Riakporhe to Billam-Smith: You were better five years ago!

Richard Riakporhe claims he faced a better version of Chris Billam-Smith back in 2019 compared to the one he will challenge for a cruiserweight world title this Saturday.

‘The Midnight Train’ prevailed on that occasion, beating Billam-Smith in a split-decision victory that would go on to serve as a major talking point ahead of the pair’s high-stakes rematch.

Billam-Smith has since gone on to defeat Lawrence Okolie to clinch the WBO belt, at which Riakporhe has earned a deserved shot by extending his perfect record to 17-0.

While the champion believes he arrives a vastly-improved fighter, Riakporhe is not convinced.

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Watch the best moments from Riakporhe’s win over Billam-Smith by split decision in 2019

“I have to object because the way I see it, I have to look back at your fights and how you performed in the last three and you haven’t won a lot of rounds in your last three fights,” said Riakporhe.

“The reality is, the underlying issue is that you’re deteriorating. And it’s plain to see.

“You can smile and laugh about it, but it really is true. That’s the talk around the town. That’s what everybody has said.

“What I do believe in is what I can see and I’ve been at every single one of your fights and I believe when you boxed me, you were better. That’s my honest opinion, you were better. Your footwork has slowed down, you don’t move your head, you take too many shots.”

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Ahead of Billam-Smith’s fight with Riakporhe at Selhurst Park, take a look back at some of the biggest stadium fights in British boxing history

Billam-Smith’s last three fights have seen him defend his world title against Mateusz Masternak after an eighth-round retirement, having beaten Okolie by majority decision and knocked out Armend Xhoxhaj in the fifth round before then.

“You’re going back to the Armend Xhoxhaj fight, that was five rounds and I won probably two or three of them,” said Billam-Smith. “It’s probably a draw going into the fifth round but I knocked him out.

“Then won the majority of the rounds and had three knockdowns against Lawrence. And against Masternak I was losing the fight and did the best job on him that anybody has ever done in one of my worst performances, that should be concerning for you.

“You’re a more refined version now, but stylistically that’s not good against me. You’re better when you’re more raw.”

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Riakporhe made a chilling prediction after it was announced he would face Billam-Smith at Selhurst Park

Riakporhe’s primary strength comes in the form of elite power that has seen him cruise to 13 knockout victories in his career, with the south Londoner having previously suggested he would stop Billam-Smith within three rounds.

While his greatest weapon is no secret, Riakporhe believes he brings an art of unpredictability.

“Yeah, I’m still raw,” said Riakporhe. “I’m still the same guy, I’m learning every single day. There’s not a complete version of Richard Riakporhe.

“You don’t know what’s gonna come. That’s what makes me even more dangerous. Because even I don’t know.

“But we know what we’re gonna get with you, Chris Billam-Smith. Your own fans, when I was ringside, they talk down on you. That’s a reality.”

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Ellie Scotney and George Groves reveal what they believe could make the difference in Billam-Smith’s fight against Riakporhe

Not once has Billam-Smith stopped to consider any lingering after-effects of his defeat to Riakporhe five years ago, nor does he plan to as he enters fight week.

He believes he is a significantly more dangerous proposition to the Billam-Smith of old. Even if his opponent does not.

“The outcome is irrelevant. If it was relevant, he should be the world champion going into this fight but he’s not.

“We watched the highlights back the other day and, in stature, he hasn’t really changed, whereas I look like a boy in there and about two stone lighter than I am now.

“I’m going to be a lot stronger and a lot more powerful come fight night. I’m also more experienced in every way – and just better.

“Me. It’s night and day. He hasn’t boxed at the level that I have yet.”

Only 30 per cent of tickets remain for Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe. Get your tickets now via Boxxer.com.

Watch Chris Billam-Smith defend his WBO cruiserweight world title against Richard Riakporhe at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park, live on Sky Sports on Saturday June 15.

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