Chris Billam-Smith says experience was the key in avenging Richard Riakporhe loss

The Bournemouth fighter impressed from the first bell to secure a 116-111, 115-112, 115-112 ruling

Reuben Rosso-Powell
Sunday 16 June 2024 09:20 BST
(Getty Images)

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Louise Thomas

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Chris Billam-Smith believes his experience was the difference maker after he retained his WBO cruiserweight title with a unanimous-decision victory over Richard Riakporhe.

CBS executed trainer Shane McGuigan’s plan at Selhurst Park as he managed to win his rematch with Riakporhe, five years after his 2019 split decision defeat by the Midnight Train.

The Bournemouth fighter impressed from the first bell to secure a 116-111, 115-112, 115-112 ruling, on a night where he took advantage of Riakporhe’s forgettable display.

“The difference between my fight with Richard five years ago is experience,” Billam-Smith said. “He won the first fight because of experience, and I won this fight because of experience.

“Those experiences, you can’t buy or fake it; you have to go through it. The ups and downs, the tough fights, they are everything.”

Billam-Smith, who defeated clinch-heavy Lawrence Okolie to pick up the WBO belt last May, battled with a similar approach from Riakporhe for much of the fight.

The Gentleman admitted he felt the similarities between Riakporhe’s display and Okolie’s.

Riakporhe also picked up a 12th-round point deduction for punches to the back of the head.

He added: “I said that it was similar to the Lawrence fight and it felt like that in terms of him being the power puncher.

“In the first fight with Richard he held a lot, I knew he would hold a lot. He was getting my left arm under his right arm because he knows I’m good with my left hand.

“It was difficult to get clean shots off and no one likes to let me work on the inside as it’s not the right thing to do so a lot of people hold. The head was coming in as well but you have to do what you have to do in there. I expected it, to be honest.”

The win marked CBS’s second title defence after December’s victory over Mateusz Masternak.

McGuigan wants his fighter to be in the mix for a potential unification fight.

He said: “We have to go for a unified world title, I would love it. We want to box [Jai] Opetaia early next summer, that’s the dream fight and we want to do that for undisputed.”

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