Friday , July 12 2024

Chris Billam-Smith admits nickname of ‘The Gentleman’ is deceptive as he plans brutal fight with Richard Riakporhe | Boxing News

Chris Billam-Smith’s nickname of ‘The Gentleman’ is fitting for a family man who holds local charities close to his heart, but the WBO champion has prepared for a “brutal” revenge mission.

Billam-Smith has sharpened his skills for a treacherous WBO cruiserweight title defence against Richard Riakporhe in front of the challenger’s home crowd at Selhurst Park on Saturday night, live on Sky Sports.

However, at home, when spending time with his loved ones, there is a vastly-different approach from Billam-Smith, a husband and father.

“Boxing is a sport where you can’t be the person you need to be around your family,” said Billam-Smith.

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Billam-Smith got a cold response from Riakporhe when he predicted a knockout win

“It’s a very brutal sport, and the mindset you have to get in on sparring days – you don’t really want your family to be around.

“When you’re around loved ones, you release oxytocin, which isn’t the hormone you need for boxing. You need a lot of adrenaline and testosterone.

“I’m quite good at turning that switch between being the boxing version of myself and the family version. It’s almost like you’re a character.”

It was at another Premier League stadium – the home of his beloved AFC Bournemouth – where he outpointed his former stablemate Lawrence Okolie just over a year ago.

The newly-crowned world champion dedicated the win to his mother who, before making a full recovery, was diagnosed with breast cancer for the second time in her life.

“She’s always been my rock; my best mate,” he said. “We lived together for a while, just her and I, when my brothers had moved out and my mum and dad had split up.

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“A couple of years ago I had my son, Frank, and she’s amazing with him. They’ve got a real, special bond. She’s definitely where I get my fighting spirit from.”

Away from boxing, there are two constants that will always be central to Billam-Smith’s life: family and Bournemouth.

As a well-supported, high-profile athlete, his presence is felt by a number of local charities; one of which, the Bournemouth Foodbank, he is an ambassador for.

After visiting their warehouse – which was full of food – and being told they had just one to two months’ worth of stock, he was, quite emphatically, left stunned by the magnitude of the charity’s work.

“My wife ended up in tears,” he said. “She just couldn’t believe it, seeing how many people are in dire need, especially now with the cost of living going up.

“It was eye-opening beyond belief, really. All the staff are lovely, and they put on some really good events.

“It’s more than just food. There’s some really amazing people down there who make such an important difference in the area.”

As a life-long Bournemouth fan, Billam-Smith has developed a strong partnership with his boyhood football club which, in turn, has opened the door to several opportunities.

He has, in a rather unconventional sense, learnt more about the players by hosting a brand-new series on the AFC Bournemouth YouTube channel, which is filmed at a local restaurant.

Billam-Smith asks a sequence of questions and the players can respond by either providing an answer or, if they are brave enough, tucking into an extra-hot chicken wing.

“It’s been great fun,” he said. “To host something like that – and I’m not known for my hosting skills – I was quite pleased with how I did in the end.

“It was very nerve-wracking for me at first, but to sit there with the lads was phenomenal.

“It is two of my favourite things in one place: AFC Bournemouth and Chicken & Blues.”

A closer relationship with the team has inspired Billam-Smith to consider which players would make the best boxers.

“Looking at the strength of Antoine [Semenyo], I think he’d be pretty handy, pretty powerful,” he said.

“Then you’ve got workhorses like Lewis Cook and Ryan Christie. I’m sure they’d be able to turn their hands to it as well.”

With an array of talent in both football and boxing, professional sport on the south coast has never shone brighter.

It is perhaps, for this reason, that Billam-Smith feels an added desire – beyond wishing to exact revenge on a former opponent – to come through his next fight in comprehensive fashion.

While it was Riakporhe who emerged victorious following their first encounter back in 2019, a much-improved version of ‘The Gentleman’ will be looking to put on a more refined performance when they clash for the second time.

“[Riakporhe] is not a high work-rate fighter, and he won’t want to be that against me because I’d just tire him out,” he said.

“It’ll be interesting to see how he deals with my pace, which is always intense.”

Riakporhe has ruthlessly stopped his last five opponents, but, come fight night, Billam-Smith is confident he will negate his rival’s devastating power.

“I can just keep a really high work-rate, for a really long time,” he said. “My engine, my fitness and my heart is all there, and a lot of cruiserweights can’t live with that pace.

“Anyone in the world would struggle with that [pace], I believe.”

Final remaining tickets for Billam-Smith vs Riakporhe available via

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; or Stream with NOW

El deporte es una actividad física y competitiva que involucra habilidades, destrezas y esfuerzo físico. Se practica en todo el mundo y puede ser individual o en equipo. Los deportes fomentan la salud, la camaradería y la competencia sana, y varían desde deportes al aire libre como el fútbol y el tenis hasta deportes de interior como el baloncesto y el ajedrez. Cada deporte tiene sus propias reglas y objetivos, pero todos promueven un estilo de vida activo y saludable.


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