Richard Riakporhe will make the second defence of his WBA Inter-Continental Cruiserweight title against Chris Billam-Smith on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s crunch Heavyweight clash with Oscar Rivas at The O2 in London on July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Riakporhe (9-0, 8KOs) displayed destructive punch power as he halted Belfast’s highly-touted Tommy McCarthy in four rounds last time out at the East of England Arena in Peterborough in March and the Londoner knows that a win over unbeaten Billam-Smith will keep him in contention for a clash with current British Champion Lawrence Okolie.
Billam-Smith (8-0, 7KOs) also holds a perfect record since turning professional in 2017 and Bournemouth fighter keeps busy on next Friday’s JD NXTGEN show at the Motorpoint Arena Nottingham before turning his attention to Riakporhe.
Known as ‘The Gentleman’, Billam-Smith has honed his skills under trainer Shane McGuigan and the 28-year-old is determined to announce himself on the big stage by taking out Riakporhe in style on his first ever PPV event.
“I’m so excited,” said Riakporhe. “I just can’t wait to get in there and get to work. I’ve got tons of potential and fight after fight I’m learning new things. I’ve taken on these big tests, I came into all these fights as the underdog, and my resume is looking quite impressive so far. This is pretty much the beginning and it’s just a matter of time before people realise that I’m the truth.
“I think Chris Billam-Smith is a good fighter, it’s just that there’s levels and I just feel that I’m on another level. He brings good boxing skill, he’s got a good coach in his corner, but once that bell rings he’s going to understand that there’s different levels of fighting. I don’t think he has been up against an opponent like me.
“All my fights and history shows that I have abnormal power and that’s likely to bring issue when we fight for sure, but we’re not only going to rely on that. We’re going to outbox him and beat him in every single department.
“I bring a lot of power and the fans love to see the knockouts. I bring those knockouts as you can see from my last eight fights and I’m going to continue to bring excitement to the fans. I think Lawrence will be watching closely and I believe once I carry on getting the wins, our paths are very likely to cross. It’s going to be a hell of a fight in the future.”
“I believe it’s going to be an exciting fight for the fans,” said Billam-Smith. “You only have to look at our records to see that we both carry knockout power and the ability to end fights at any time. Isaac Chamberlain didn’t want to know so we moved on swiftly and secured a better fight with Riakporhe, I’m not letting anyone stall my career.
“I think I’ll outbox him early on and I believe I’ll take him out when I get the chance – I don’t expect this to go the full ten rounds. I believe that I’ll take him out anywhere between four and six rounds. He’s a good scalp for me at this stage of my career as his record looks great on paper and he can obviously punch a bit. There’s definitely weaknesses there which I plan to exploit.
“This will be the first title that I’ve boxed for as a professional and it’s important to get it under my belt in order to progress. I want to pick up as many belts as I can and move up the rankings quickly. It’s the perfect platform for me with it being on Sky Sports Box Office and at such a great arena that I’ve been to many times as a fan over the years. I’m excited to bring a big fanbase with me and start the show with a bang.”
“Richard is on a good run now and he’s got a lot of confidence behind him,” said Dillian Whyte, manager of Riakporhe. “The people he’s fighting and beating, I believe his resume is a lot better than Lawrence Okolie so far. If he defeats Billam-Smith in good fashion, which I believe he will do, then he should be looking to fight the likes of Lawrence Okolie by the end of the year.
“Billam-Smith is a good boxer, he’s undefeated, he’ll be confident, but Richard carries a lot of power, he’s on a roll and I think he can stop Billam-Smith in six or seven rounds. With Richard, it’s all about the people he has around him, and the mindset that those people give him. He’s ready to defeat most of these guys in the Cruiserweight division worldwide.”
“It’s a great fight and these type of fights don’t happen very often,” said Barry McGuigan MBE, manager of Billam-Smith. “Most of the guys that are coming up through the ranks are always conscious of the guys that are on a similar level to them with similar records but invariably they avoid each other, certainly in the early stages of their career. It’s great to see these two young guys meeting on July 20.
“Riakporhe is definitely known for his punching power and I know that his manager Dillian Whyte thinks Riakporhe can take Billam-Smith out but I disagree with that completely. Of all of the guys that we’ve had through the gym, I don’t think anyone had made the improvements that Billam-Smith has made. He’s got great boxing skills and he can bang. He places his shots really well. It’s not an easy fight, there’s no question about it, but I think he will have too much for Riakporhe – he’s too versatile. It’s as simple as that.”
Charlie Duffield and Dan Azeez will meet in an all-London clash for the Southern Area Light-Heavyweight title on the undercard of Dillian Whyte’s Heavyweight showdown with unbeaten Colombian Oscar Rivas at The O2 in London on July 20, live on Sky Sports Box Office.
Canning Town’s Duffield (7-1, 6 KOs) bounced back from a first career defeat in 2016 with four straight victories and the heavy-handed Mark Tibbs fighter is delighted to be fighting for his first professional title as he looks to climb the domestic ladder at 175lbs.
Lewisham’s Azeez (8-0, 5 KOs) has earned his first title shot with eight straight wins since turning over in 2017 and the former amateur standout is promising to deliver a memorable performance in his first opportunity on the big stage.
“I’m really looking forward to this one,” said Duffield. “It’s a really big platform on Sky Sports Box Office and a great opportunity for me to showcase what I’m really about. It’s going to be a cracking fight on July 20, I’m preparing for a war. Mark Tibbs has got the best out of me and he’s pushed me to my limits – that’s what I need in a trainer. I’ve got to say a massive thank you to Dillian Whyte for helping me get this opportunity, he’s been like a big brother to me.
“This is massive for me. I’ve always told people that these four rounders are no good for me because I only start warming up in the second and third rounds. I’m a pretty slow starter and I come on strong in the later rounds. I haven’t been able to showcase that yet but this is a championship fight and I’m going to get my head down and train hard. Under the guidance of Mark I think I can go all the way.
“I’ve seen lots of Azeez and he’s very good. He’s kept really busy which should stand him in good stead for our fight. I never underestimate my opponents but I’m going to let my hands do the talking. When I catch people cleanly with those 10oz gloves they don’t get up. Nobody has seen the best of my yet but they will on July 20.”
“I’m happy to get my first title shot,” said Azeez. “It’s a pleasure to have it on a huge Matchroom Boxing show. I’ve got to thank MTK Global for sorting it out for me. I’ve worked hard to get into this position with some good performances and I’ve stayed very active. The fashion of my wins has made a lot of noise and put me in this position to be mandatory for the Southern Area title.
“Charlie Duffield is a big opponent. He’s very strong and he’s a big puncher. He’s won the majority of his fights by TKO so I know he’s dangerous. My current trainer used to train Charlie as an amateur, so he’ll know a lot about him. I’m expecting the best Charlie Duffield to turn up on July 20 so I’ve got to train hard and just keep on doing what I’m doing. I’m sure that will be enough to get my hand raised on the night.”
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