Chris Billam-Smith agrees to defend WBO crown against Richard Riakporhe

WBO cruiserweight world champion Chris Billam-Smith (19-1, 13KOs) and mandatory challenger Richard Riakporhe (17-9, 13KOs) have agreed terms to face one another, says promoter Ben Shalom. 

The pair had previously faced each other in July of 2019, which saw Riakporhe drop Billam-Smith in the seventh round before squeaking a split decision points win over ten-round at London’s 02 Arena. 

Shalom is targeting a football stadium to host the contest following the success of Boxxer promoting Billam-Smith’s successful title challenge against Lawrence Okolie at the Vitality Stadium in Billam-Smith’s hometown of Bournemouth in May of 2023. Selhurst Park, the home of Premier League side Crystal Palace, of whom Riakporhe supports, is a larger venue with a capacity just shy of 25,500 seats compared to the Vitality Stadium, which holds 11,379.

“That’s a fight that both fighters have signed to fight. It’s a mandatory fight, and it’s guaranteed to happen next. Another huge fight in British boxing,” Shalom told Sky Sports after confirming that both champion and challenger have agreed to terms. 

Riakporhe was previously named mandatory challenger to IBF belt-holder Jai Opetaia but was advised by his advisers to withdraw himself from his mandatory status over the summer months last year. Riakporhe and Boxxer were also involved in attempting to negotiate a title tilt against long-reigning but grossly inactive WBA belt holder Arsen Goulamiran but failed to agree on financial terms. Goulaniran has since decided to defend his title against Gilberto Ramirez, reportedly scheduled for March in Las Vegas. Opetaia is now set to contest his now-vacant title against mandatory challenger Mairis Briedis. 

Shalom has set no date for the Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe contest due to awaiting medical advice regarding a cut which champion Billam-Smith would sustain in his maiden title defence against Mateusz Masternak last month. 

“They’ve both signed to fight each other. Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe will fight each other next, and we’re waiting on Chris to update [on his cut], and then we can announce the date,” Shalom explained.