FIGHT SPORTS Exclusive: Richard Riakporhe On His Chris Billam-Smith Rematch

Richard Riakporhe chases his first world title as he takes on Chris Billam-Smith on Saturday for the WBO Cruiserweight Title, which you can catch live on FIGHT SPORTS on certain territories. 

This is their second meeting after Riakporhe won their 2019 fight. He came through with a split decision win, which could have gone either way. Since then, Riakporhe’s career has gone from strength-to-strength. He has developed a reputation for being one one of the biggest punchers in the division. Riakporhe has stopped his last five opponents. The cruiserweight will hope to do the same in front of a home crowd at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park football stadium. 

Billam-Smith is the champion. Since his defeat to Riakporhe, he has won ten consecutive fight. He picked up the belt by beating his former sparring partner Lawrence Okolie in 2023. He followed it up with a successful title defense against Mateusz Masternak. However, the performance was below-par. Billam-Smith was being outboxed before Masternark retired with a rib injury. FIGHT SPORTS caught up with Riakporhe ahead of his fight. 

Interview

Interviewer: What’s the biggest difference in fighting Chris Bill Smith this time around?

Richard: “The biggest difference is he’s a champion. So the mentality would have changed to some extent, and it’s about overcoming that. He probably believes that he’s going to be reigning champion after this fight and going to do all the things that he’s planned for himself, and that’s something that I have to deal with when it comes to fighting.”

Interviewer: Is it important to get a knockout?

Richard: “Yes, that’s important. I put a lot of pressure on myself to perform, and we did everything that we need to do to believe we’ll get the victory in devastating fashion.”

Interviewer: How are you keeping your emotions in check?

Richard: “Just really enjoying the moment. When it comes to fight week, I’m always chilled, relaxed, happy, because I’ve done the hard part. The easy part for me is always performing. The fights are always easy for me, because I always see my opponent as myself. When I’m in camp, I aim to conquer myself. Every single day, when I conquer myself, I believe I’m unbeatable. Nobody can beat me, and that’s what we did in this family.”

Interviewer: Why do you feel you’ll beat him this time around for a second time?

Richard: “I just believe I have everything it takes. I think the preparation has been excellent. I’ve prepared meticulously. I pushed myself past my limits and did everything I need to do to win.”

Interviewer: Is this your first rematch you ever had?

Richard: Yeah, this is the first rematch.

Interviewer: How is it different preparing for a rematch than preparing for someone you’ve never fought before?

Richard: “I think preparing for somebody you’ve never fought before is a bit different, because you have to gauge their timing. You have to understand how they move. You get comfortable with them, and then you can step on the gas. When you’ve fought someone before, you understand how they move, what they did in the fight, things that you noticed on that night. It’s all about just dealing with those things if they happen again.”

Interviewer: What’s different about fighting in a stadium, and you’re in your home, you’re in your backyard. Does that give you an advantage?

Richard: Yeah, fighting in your backyard definitely gives you an advantage. When you have your own support, they’re lifting your energy. They bring a different energy, which in my opinion, is momentum. When people are cheering you on, you might be tired, you might be having tough times in a fight, and that extra push, those roars and shouts, will push you a bit further to do things you didn’t realize you were capable of doing. Chris Billam-Smith knows exactly what I’m talking about, because he won the title at the Bournemouth Vitality Stadium, his favorite football team’s stadium. He had that support behind him. I felt like it was his time, but on the 15th, it’s going to be my time.

Interviewer: Are there any boxers you emulate your fighting style on?

Richard: I think I have a unique, rough, and rugged style. It’s a mixture of different fighters that I watch. The ones I mention are Mike McCallum, Sugar Ray. I don’t like to have a particular style to be honest. I like to be able to change it in any way I can, so I’m not predictable.

Interviewer: One year from now, where do you see yourself?

Richard: I see myself on top of the world, and I see myself as a heavyweight fighter.

Interviewer: Who do you see yourself facing when you move up to heavyweight?

Richard: You know, the landscape of the heavyweights changes quite frequently. But I want to get right in the mix. Anybody, I don’t really mind who I face. The only thing will be dependent on the size of the fighters, but I feel like the heavyweights are coming back to that size like myself. I’m about six foot five. Most of them, like Usyk for example, are around 220 pounds. You obviously have bigger ones like Zhang, who’s 260, but I reckon I’ll be around 230 to 240 pounds and mixing it with the guys that are on the fringe of world-level.

Where To Watch Info

You can watch the fight in the following territories

Japan

Fiji/Pacific Islands – Kiribati, Tonga, Papua New Guinea, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Pitcairn Islands, Guam, Wallis and Futuna, Nauru, Soloman Islands, Niue, New Zealand, Samoa, Tokelau, Philippines, Indonesia, Northern Mariana Islands, Vanuatu, Palau, Tuvalu, Cook Islands, New Caledonia, French Polynesia, American Somoa

Cambodia

Vietnam

Spain

Portugal

France

Nordic/Baltic – Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway, Sweden 

Greece/Cyprus

Romania

Ex-Yugoslavia – Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Slovenia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Macedonia

MENA  – Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, Qatar, Morocco, Djibouti, Western Sahara, Yemen, Syria, Israel, Lebanon, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Palestine, Mauritania, Jordan, Iran, Bahrain, Oman, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan

Albania

Israel

Belgium (Non-exclusive)

Caribbean (Non-exclusive) – Antigua and Barbuda, The Bahamas, Barbados, Cuba, Dominica, Domican Republic, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Trinidad and Tobago, Aruba, British Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Netherlands Antilles, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands

Angola, Mozambique, Cape Verde (Non-exclusive)

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