Billam-Smith: I’ll knock Riakporhe out!

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Billam-Smith: I’ll knock Riakporhe out!

Chris Billam-Smith says he will stop Richard Riakporhe inside the distance when he defends his WBO cruiserweight world title at Selhurst Park this Saturday.

For much of the build-up, it has been the knockout exploits of Riakporhe to have featured among the chief talking points, but Billam-Smith has issued his own statement of devastating intent in view of spoiling the party at the home of his opponent’s Crystal Palace.

“I see me getting the job done inside the distance 100 per cent,” said Billam-Smith.

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

“I think it is too big a step for him. His last fight was in a small arena, he hasn’t headlined in a while so it’s a massive step, the levels in ability is a huge step as well.”

Riakporhe isn’t buying it.

“I don’t believe him, he’s never said that until now,” said the challenger.

“They all say that, it always turns out to be the wrong prediction.

“I believe I’ll knock this guy out.”

Billam-Smith wrestled the WBO belt away from Lawrence Okolie to become world champion in Bournemouth last year, but does not believe he enters this weekend’s clash as favourite.

Not that he minds.

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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

“Absolutely, I think I’ll be underdog again, it’s never affected me, I love being the underdog, I just focus on me and do what I’ve got to do,” said Billam-Smith.

“I think there’s much more motivation this fight for me, the venue being away is added motivation. I’m pleased it’s here, I’d prefer it’s here than the Vitality, this is a new dream, another Premier League stadium.

“I wanted to play in the Premier League, but that was never the route, here I am fighting in their stadiums instead.”

The British rivals have been in disagreement this week over who gets access to the home dressing room on Saturday, Riakporhe believing it should belong to him as the Palace fan and having played a key role in bringing the fight to Selhurst Park.

But as champion, Billam-Smith has no plans to give up the privileges that come with it.

“My team have done their job, we’ve got champion’s rights, champion gets home dressing room, it looks nice in there,” he laughed.

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Don’t miss our latest episode of ‘The Gloves Are Off’ featuring cruiserweight rivals Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe.

Billam-Smith has claimed in the lead-up to the fight that Riakporhe’s efforts to showcase his boxing skills have detracted from the knockout power that has fuelled his rise to world title contention.

“That’s complete nonsense, I think it’s a psychological tactic trying to get into my mind,” said Riakporhe. “I have real power.”

Riakporhe has, meanwhile, maintained that he is the more evolved fighter since he handed Billam-Smith his only career loss back in July 2019.

“I’ve improved so much, it’s going to show, it’s shown already in my fights,” he added.

“I look back at fights at domestic level and people were like ‘he won’t win the British title, he will not go nowhere near the European title’, you can see my trajectory, it speaks for itself, I’m here fighting for a world title.

“I always prove the doubters wrong. I have what it takes to do not just this, a number on CBS, but way more.”

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Riakporhe is relishing the support of his home fans when he takes centre stage in south London on Saturday night, insisting the pressure of fighting at Selhurst Park will only drive him towards victory.

“I tell everybody this, Crystal Palace fans are the best in the world, they come and support their own, that’s what it’s about,” he said.

“It will give me more energy when we’re fighting, I’ve never been in that position before where so many people back me, it was always me going into the other guy’s backyard fighting them.

“How can it change me for the worse? It will definitely make me fight better. Having my close friends around gives me more purpose and reminds me, don’t forget the journey.”

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

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; Stream the fight with NOW – no contract, cancel anytime

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