Chris Billam-Smith says Richard Riakporhe avoided world title fight against Jai Opetaia | boxing news

Chris Billam-Smith has dismissed Richard Riakporhe’s claims that the pair enter Saturday’s world title fight as equals, and questioned why his cruiserweight rival did not face fellow world champion Jai Opetaia.

Speaking on The Gloves Are Off, Riakporhe praised Billam-Smith’s success in becoming WBO world cruiserweight champion with last year’s victory over Lawrence Okolie.

He went on to suggest that Billam-Smith had been “undermining” him with certain comments in the run-up to Saturday’s world title fight at Selhurst Park – live on sky sports.

They took off the gloves

Sunday, June 9, 10:00 p.m.


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

“You have done very well and I will give you your flowers,” said Riakporhe. “You know what, if you want roses, I’ll give them to you. If you want a white rose, I can give that to you too. And I deserve flowers too. So, what flowers are you going to give me, Chris?”

“In some of the interviews I hear you do, you put me down.

“I’m fighting for a world title, you’re the champion. We’re pretty even.”

Among the notable debates ahead of the fight is which of the two has improved the most since Riakporhe handed Billam-Smith the only loss of his career in 2019.

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Speaking on Toe2Toe, Ellie Scotney talks about how Billam-Smith has looked in training and believes he has what it takes to seek revenge against Riakporhe.

Billam-Smith sees his rise to world champion status as evidence, along with what he believes is a superior fighting resume.

“I’ve said you’ve improved in some areas, but you haven’t really taken a step forward,” Billam-Smith said.

“We are not level. Because I won a world title and I defended it. You have avoided a world.

“You were mandatory for Jai Opetaia, right? So why didn’t that fight happen before that?

“The fact is that the fight didn’t happen. You haven’t fought for a world title until now, so up to this point, who has had a better career?”

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Billiam-Smith engaged in a war of words with challenger Riakporhe as the pair faced each other ahead of their June 15 fight.

Riakporhe had previously been a top contender to face Opetaia, who reigns as the current IBF cruiserweight world champion following his unanimous decision victory over Mairis Briedis earlier this month.

However, he insists that he would never have passed up the opportunity to fight for a world title.

“You shouldn’t talk about things you don’t know,” Riakporhe said. “You don’t understand the business side of boxing. It was out of my hands.

“Those who know know because they were involved. I never turned down any fight.

“I personally say we are equal. We are equal. The only thing that separates you is you winning that title. But we are here at this moment where we are back.”

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

Billam-Smith will defend his world title for the second time since dethroning Okolie, having beaten Mateusz Masternak in the eighth round last December.

Once the hunter, now the hunted, and with people like Opetaia in his sights in the future.

“I love that if there’s more pressure on me, then it’s great,” Billam-Smith said. “I said last year there was no more pressure on my career than that fight (against Okolie), so I loved it and I loved the pressure.

“And for me there is enormous pressure in this fight because there is a legacy at stake.

“I think it’s a big step up from where he’s been in terms of headliner, the type of opponent, the experience his opponents have had in the past and where they are in their career.

“This is a very, very hungry version of me. You never get a complete fighter, but I’m a much better fighter than last time, that’s for sure, and much better than anyone I’ve ever faced. I think it’s a great, great level jump”.

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

Watch Richard Riakporhe and Chris Billam-Smith exchange words in the latest edition of The Gloves Are Off, on Sky Sports Action from 10pm Sunday.

Riakporhe challenges Billam-Smith for the WBO world cruiserweight title live on Sky on Saturday June 15

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