Richard Riakporhe and Chris Billam-Smith have a past. They could well figure in each other’s futures.
Riakporhe defeated Billam-Smith on a close split decision in 2019 and remains an unbeaten cruiserweight contender.
Bournemouth’s Billam-Smith went on to become the WBO world champion, a title he will defend against Mateusz Masternak on December 10.
Riakporhe remains the only professional opponent to have defeated Billam-Smith, although to this day Billam-Smith questions the decision and the knockdown that was given against him.
The Londoner declared: “If there’s debate about it, we can definitely do it again.
“With that fight it was a close decision. I believe I did enough to win the fight. I was confident that I got the W, even before the scorecards were read out,” Riakporhe maintained. “There was one judge that called out the fight in his favour.
“Apart from that, everybody was in favour of me, because I was showing my strength in there, dictating the fight, initiating, throwing cleaner shots, big shots landing.
“If I was more experienced, I would have knocked him out. Definitely knocked him out. I didn’t really know what I was doing, smothered my work. It was my ninth fight.
“I’m way more mature now. If I hurt you, I should be able to take you out straightaway.”
Riakporhe could force that rematch. He is the No 1 contender at cruiserweight for the WBO and expects to be called as the mandatory challenger.
“That’s bound to be ordered very soon. As soon as that’s ordered we’re going to be literally discussing when, where and who. Because it all depends who comes out on top on December 10,” he said.
Riakporhe has also been in the ring with Masternak, when sparring in training.
“I’ve done a few camps with Mateusz Masternak. I understand his style, I know the way he fights. I know what he’s going to bring. He’s definitely a warrior, very tough and I think that fight is going to be a very entertaining fight for the boxing public,” the Londoner said.
“The styles will definitely gel. Masternak’s a warrior. His dream is to become a world champion.
“I think CBS should do it, but he can’t take his eye off the ball. He has to be on point every single round, switched on.”
Riakporhe had the option to fight IBF titlist Jai Opetaia earlier this year as well as an agreement to box Arsen Goulamirian, the WBA cruiserweight champion. He accepted the latter only for the deal to fall through.
“We found out that he had some legal issues with his promoters. The rest is history. We had to move on,” the Londoner said. “Energy was high. We thought it was 100 per cent a go. Then we heard he had some issues. It was actually done.
“Once we do get our shot, we’re going to do everything in our power to rip it off whoever’s champion. Literally. They will know. They will know,” he added.
“Every single champion, which is why it’s been so complicated getting the shot in the first place. It’s going to be a hard night for every single one of them.
“You will see the displays when that time comes, when I challenge.”
He is now positioned to secure a shot at Billam-Smith, as long as he doesn’t slip up against Dylan Bregeon on Saturday in Wolverhampton, live on Sky Sports.
France’s Bregeon has previously gone the distance with Billam-Smith and Isaac Chamberlain. He is a gritty, durable opponent.
“I put it all at risk,” he said. “That’s what us guys do.
“I’m going to focus on Bregeon first.”
Riakporhe is on the cusp of a big year coming up. As well as meeting Billam-Smith, he has a burgeoning rivalry with Lawrence Okolie, the Hackney cruiserweight, who lost his WBO championship to Billam-Smith.
“I believe it can happen in 2024,” Riakporhe said of Okolie. “The boxing public they hate his style.
“They don’t want to watch this guy no more. I’ll do the fans a favour get rid of him.”
A defeat on Saturday would be disastrous for Riakporhe. He must win, but he also has to hone the tools that would need to conquer his British rivals.
“I wouldn’t mind some rounds [against Bregeon]. We always go for the knockout. So if I smell blood, that’s it, the fight’s going to be over in an instant,” he said.
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“I always go for the knockout,” Riakporhe continued. “That’s why I stand out from a lot of other fighters.
“It just takes one shot for the fight to finish and that’s what we always want to do and that’s what the fans like to see.
“That’s my gift.”
Watch Richard Riakporhe vs Dylan Bregeon on Sky Sports Main Event from 7pm on Saturday