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Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe - who wins? Expert predictions ahead of the WBO cruiserweight world championship clash

Experts make their picks ahead of Chris Billam-Smith's defence of his WBO cruiserweight world title against Richard Riakporhe at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park, live on Sky Sports on Saturday June 15

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Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe were locked in an intense staredown at the weigh-in of their WBO cruiserweight bout at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Experts and pundits have their say ahead of Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe's clash for the WBO cruiserweight world title at Crystal Palace's Selhurst Park stadium on Saturday.

Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe collide in one of the biggest all-British fights of the year on Saturday with fans able to tune in to watch a bumper undercard from 6.30 pm live on Sky Sports or stream instantly with NOW.

Johnny Nelson (Former WBO cruiserweight champion):

"Richard Riakporhe stops Chris Billam-Smith inside the distance. The only thing we can doubt is, can he go to the well and dig deep when there's nothing there?

"We've seen Chris Billam-Smith do it. We haven't seen it from Richard Riakporhe, because he's not had to do it, and so if he has to dig deep, that's when you think: 'oh my goodness.' That's where you favour Chris Billam-Smith. But I think Richard Riakporhe, now is the time he's got to shine. Now's the time [for] a career-best and a career-best should do the job."

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Challenger Richard Riakporhe sends a surprising final message to champion Chris Billiam-Smith ahead of their WBO cruiserweight title fight on Saturday.

Barry Jones (Former world champion):

"I do make Billam-Smith the favourite. Just from experience, dealing with the pressure. I think he is a better fighter than he was, as Riakporhe is.

"But the activity and the not being afraid to be in range of a shot. He's aware that he has to take that educated risk. Dining out on your chin is a worry but he understands that he has to be in that range to land his own shots. I think he's willing to commit to that.

"I just think he's a smarter fighter overall than when they first met. Riakporhe, even though I think he's neater than he was, ultimately it will boil down to how much he can land with that right hand and that left hook, and I just feel like Billam-Smith will be able to stunt that distance and have more success."

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Jack Massey (Has boxed both):

"It's a tough one. It's a very tough one. I've sort of been flitting between the two. I'm swaying towards Riakporhe. Just a bit more power, a bit stronger and just going off Billam-Smith's last performance [against Mateusz Masternak], that's what I'm going off."

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Chris Billam-Smith says he'll be ready for whatever Richard Riakporhe brings on fight night and believes he'll win by knockout.

Spencer Oliver (Former European champion):

"I think both guys have developed a lot since that first fight. They were at the beginning stages of their careers in that first fight.

"Chris Billam-Smith has had that 10-fight unbeaten run since that fight back in 2019 and he's proven he's tough. He goes to that place in a fight where it's not easy to turn it around and he's shown that championship material by showing that quality to be able to turn it around. We haven't seen that of Richard Riakporhe yet.

"Richard's unbeaten and got himself into that mandatory position. His development's been slightly different but what Richard's gained from the first fight that he never had is the fact that he believes in himself. With Richard in that first fight, even though he won the fight, he never believed in himself. You could see that in his performance where he wouldn't quite step in, was a little bit tense. He's now at that stage where he does believe in himself.

"And that's why I lean towards Riakporhe to win this contest."

Ringwalk times

  • For the Chris Billam-Smith vs Richard Riakporhe main event, ringwalks will be from 9.45pm.
  • Ben Whittaker's ringwalk for his light-heavyweight contest with Ezra Arenyeka is expected around 9pm on Saturday night.
  • Don't miss the big Selhurst Park bill live on Sky Sports.

Duke McKenzie (Former three-weight world champion)

"It's a good fight and that's what the crowd are here to see and that's what they're going to see. It's going to be explosive because they've already got history together.

"I would lean towards Riakporhe simply because I think he'd be the more improved of the two. I don't think Billam-Smith can change. I think once he gets hit, Billam-Smith... for me, he's a little bit too flat-footed, there's not enough head movement and he doesn't rely on his boxing ability, he wants to fight.

"If he could change his game a little bit, he'd stand a better chance of winning. Smarts win fights and I just think Riakporhe is going to be a little bit too smart for him."

Matt Christie (Leading boxing journalist):

"This is an exceptionally difficult fight to call, much like the first time they met. Since then, both have unquestionably improved yet it is the level to which Billam-Smith has risen that makes his trajectory steeper.

"Consequently, given Billam-Smith's superior experience, both on the world stage and in 12-round championship fights, I lean towards him edging out Riakporhe on points."

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Johnny Nelson questions who'll come out on top as Chris Billam-Smith prepares to defend his WBO World Cruiserweight Title against Richard Riakporhe on Saturday.

Ellie Scotney (IBF & WBO bantamweight world champion):

"When you compare the fighters who shared the ring all those years ago, when you compare their careers, the best fighter on Richard's record is Chris by a country mile.

"You look at Chris, you look who he's boxed - Lawrence Okolie, who was the bogeyman of the division, no one wanted to touch him but he hits very hard. Chris has a way to always find a way to win. I think the intensity and the tenacity, he'll break Richard down the longer stretch, so I'm backing a Billam-Smith stoppage win.

"We see the best of Chris when no one believes in him and his back is against the wall, and I think he'll shut people up on Saturday."

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Richard Riakporhe says he doesn't play mind games and is excited to get to work against Chris Billam-Smith.

Bradley Skeete (Former British champion)

"I'm going to go with Riakporhe. It's all set up for him; Crystal Palace, his home town, I think he'll come through with a late stoppage.

"I like Billam-Smith a lot, he's a great champion, I wish him all the best, but I'll go with Riakporhe for this one. I think Riakporhe will be inspired by the home crowd. Chris is always in Bournemouth, the support he gets there is unbelievable, it could be the same for Richard."

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. You can also stream the event through NOW TV.

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