Chris Billam-Smith admits ‘The Gentleman’ nickname is misleading as he plans brutal fight with Richard Riakporhe | boxing news

Chris Billam-Smith’s nickname of ‘The Gentleman’ is fitting for a family man who holds local charities close to his heart, but the WBO champion has prepared himself for a “brutal” revenge mission.

Billam-Smith has honed his skills for a treacherous WBO cruiserweight title defense against Richard Riakporhe in front of the challenger’s home crowd at Selhurst Park on Saturday night, live on sky sports.

However, at home, when spending time with loved ones, there is a very different approach to that of Billam-Smith, a husband and father.

“Boxing is a sport where you can’t be the person you need to be with your family,” Billam-Smith said.

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Billam-Smith received a cold response from Riakporhe when he predicted a knockout victory

“It’s a very brutal sport, and the mentality you have to have on sparring days is that you don’t really want your family to be around.

“When you are around your loved ones, you release oxytocin, which is not the hormone you need for boxing. You need a lot of adrenaline and testosterone.

“I’m pretty good at flipping that switch between being the boxing version of myself and the family version. It’s almost like you’re a character.”

It was at another Premier League stadium, the home of his beloved AFC Bournemouth, where he surpassed his old teammate Lawrence Okolie in points just over a year ago.

The newly crowned world champion dedicated the victory to his mother, who, before making a full recovery, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in her life.

“She has always been my support; my best friend,” he said. “We lived together for a while, just her and I, when my brothers moved away and my mom and dad split up.

“I had my son Frank a couple of years ago, and she’s amazing with him. They have a real, special bond. She’s definitely where I get my fighting spirit from.”

Aside from boxing, there are two constants that will always be central to Billam-Smith’s life: family and Bournemouth.

As a high-profile and well-supported athlete, his presence is felt by several local charities; one of which, Bournemouth Foodbank, is an ambassador.

After visiting their warehouse, which was full of food, and being told they only had one or two months’ worth of stock, he was absolutely stunned by the magnitude of the charity’s work.

“My wife ended up crying,” he said. “I just couldn’t believe it, seeing how many people are in dire need, especially now that the cost of living is rising.

“It was incredibly eye-opening, really. All the staff are lovely and they put on some really good events.

“It’s more than just food. There are some really amazing people there who make a really important difference in the area.”

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Watch highlights from Riakporhe’s 2019 split decision win over Billam-Smith

As a lifelong Bournemouth fan, Billam-Smith has developed a strong association with his boyhood football club which, in turn, has opened the door to a number of opportunities.

In a rather unconventional sense, he has learned more about the players by hosting a new series on AFC Bournemouth’s YouTube channel, which is filmed in a local restaurant.

Billam-Smith asks a sequence of questions and players can respond by giving an answer or, if they are brave enough, by eating an extra hot chicken wing.

“It’s been a lot of fun,” he said. “To host something like that, and I’m not known for my hosting skills, I was pretty pleased with how I did in the end.

“It was very stressful for me at first, but sitting there with the guys was phenomenal.

“It’s two of my favorite things in one place: AFC Bournemouth and Chicken & Blues.”

A closer relationship with the team has inspired Billam-Smith to consider which players would make the best fighters.

“Seeing Antoine’s (Semenyo) strength, I think he would be quite useful, quite powerful,” he said.

“Then we have workhorses like Lewis Cook and Ryan Christie. I’m sure they could do that too.”

With a variety of talent in both football and boxing, professional sport on the south coast has never shined brighter.

Perhaps it is for this reason that Billam-Smith feels an added desire – beyond the desire to get revenge on a former opponent – to overcome his next fight comprehensively.

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Ahead of Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe, we take a look at some of the biggest stadium fights in British boxing history.

While it was Riakporhe who emerged victorious after their first meeting in 2019, a much-improved version of ‘The Gentleman’ will look to deliver a more refined performance when they meet for the second time.

“(Riakporhe) is not a high work rate fighter and he won’t want to do it against me because it would tire him out,” he said.

“It will be interesting to see how my rhythm handles, which is always intense.”

Riakporhe has relentlessly stopped his last five opponents, but come fight night Billam-Smith is confident of nullifying his opponent’s devastating power.

“I can maintain a really high work rate for a long time,” he said. “My engine, my fitness and my heart are there, and many cruiserweights can’t live at that pace.

“I think anyone in the world would have a problem with that (pace).

Final remaining tickets for Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe available via Boxxer.com.

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

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