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Richard Riakporhe must not rely on one punch against Chris Billam-Smith, says Frazer Clarke

Watch Chris Billam-Smith defend his WBO cruiserweight world title against Richard Riakporhe at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park, live on Sky Sports on Saturday June 15; Ben Whittaker and Dan Azeez feature on the undercard

Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe go head-to-head at Selhurst Park
Image: Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe go head-to-head at Selhurst Park

Richard Riakporhe could need more than just one knockout punch in order to break down Chris Billam-Smith, warns Frazer Clarke. 

The toughest test of Riakporhe's professional career awaits on Saturday as he looks to strip Billam-Smith of the WBO cruiserweight world title.

It is a test he is partially familiar with, having defeated his British rival via split decision back in 2019. But whether Riakporhe will admit it or not, he knows he will be facing a different version of Billam-Smith.

Riakporhe has made a name for himself as one of the division's most potent knockout merchants, however heavyweight contender Clarke has encouraged the South Londoner to trust his boxing ability ahead of this weekend's Selhurst Park showdown.

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Watch the best moments from Riakporhe's win over Billam-Smith by split decision in 2019

"Richard is definitely a puncher and a lot of punchers can get this trait of where they know they've always got that equaliser in them, so they probably don't do as much as they need to," Clarke told Sky Sports.

"I've been trying to get him to get that out of him and at this level of fight, you can't rely on that one punch because it might not come, because people are crafty.

"It's just getting Richard to believe in himself a little bit and let his hands go, which he has definitely been doing."

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Riakporhe has won 13 of his 17 victories by knockout on his road to earning a world title opportunity, most recently stopping Dylan Bregeon in the second round last November.

Clarke has praised The Midnight Train's development over the years and is backing him to clinch the biggest win of his career this weekend.

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Ahead of Billam-Smith's fight with Riakporhe at Selhurst Park, take a look back at some of the biggest stadium fights in British boxing history

"He's down at the weight, he's looking good and he's there or thereabouts. He looks good, he looks energised, he looks ready to go and extremely focused," said Clarke.

"But he's relaxed at the same time and that's always a good thing to see. He's confident in the training he has done and, more than anything, it's exciting. It's a massive, massive thing to be boxing in a football stadium for a world title.

"I think it's probably bigger than he realises at the minute, but when he looks back on it, if it goes the way I'm expecting it to go, then he'll see how much of an achievement it is.

"He's come on leaps and bounds. When I see him in the gym, I can see how much of an improvement he's making week by week, camp by camp, so I have to admire him. It's all down to him, his time, his effort and his dedication, so he can be very proud of all that."

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Chris Billam-Smith got a cold response from Richard Riakporhe when he predicted he will retain his WBO world title by knockout on Saturday night.

Riakporhe has been training alongside Clarke at Loughborough ahead of his world title clash, underlining the size and frame that could yet take him up a weight class down the line.

"There are a couple of times I've jumped in there and given him a few rounds, and it's never easy work with Richard - he's a heavyweight fighting in the cruiserweight division," said Clarke. "It's always good rounds, he's very sharp and very focused for his world title shot.

"I feel like a lot of good fighters, past and present, always do well when they've got someone in and around their weight in the gym because you've got that competitive edge and you've got that constant flow of, not hard sparring, but we do a lot of stuff.

"Rather than hitting the bag all the time, it's better to be working with each other and an actual person who is going to hit you back.

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Don't miss our latest episode of 'The Gloves Are Off' featuring cruiserweight rivals Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe.

"We do a lot of stuff in between camp where it's just getting used and familiar to being in the ring and doing rounds. Sometimes it's not even rounds, me and Richard have done 45-minute sparring sessions before where you're not trying to kill each other, just working on little things and giving yourself scenarios. It's very good and very beneficial."

Only 30 per cent of tickets remain for Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe. Get your tickets now via Boxxer.com.

Watch Chris Billam-Smith defend his WBO cruiserweight world title against Richard Riakporhe at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park, live on Sky Sports on Saturday June 15; Stream the fight with NOW - no contract, cancel anytime

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