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Billam-Smith refutes 'monster' claims about rival Riakporhe

World champion Chris Billam-Smith played down the “monster” tag given to rival Richard Riakporhe, with the duo set to collide later this year.

The pair have agreed to face off for Billam-Smith’s WBO cruiserweight championship, with a date and venue still yet to be announced.

Riakporhe remains the only fighter to put a blemish on Billam-Smith’s professional record.

The man nicknamed the Midnight Train has 17 victories and no defeats to his name, with 13 of those wins coming inside the scheduled distance.

He overcame Billam-Smith via a controversial split decision victory in July 2019.

But with the Dorset fighter set to step back into the ring with Riakporhe five years on, he insists the power possessed by his rival is overhyped.

Speaking about Riakporhe, Billam-Smith told Sky Sports: "He's not the monster everyone makes him out to be.

“I think he's a threat, of course. He's got punch power. But he's not the monster everyone makes him out to be.

"Deion Jumah, who he stopped in eight rounds in the end, he was losing a lot of the rounds. So he's reliant on his punch power. If he can't stop someone he'll probably get beat by them and that's how I see him.

"If he doesn't knock you out he's probably losing eight of the rounds. He needs the power to get knockdowns if he's not finishing people.

"I never look at boxing for the hype, I try and look for the substance in what it is. That's what makes me very, very confident going into the fight."

Billam-Smith, whose record stands at 19 victories and one defeat, sealed the British, Commonwealth and European belts before claiming the world title against Lawrence Okolie at Vitality Stadium last summer.

"I've always wanted to be in big domestic fights and my career's proven that,” he added.

“My good mate George Groves, obviously being a massive fan of him, watching him in the (James) DeGale and the (Carl) Froch fights.

"They're the fights that always get remembered and that's the fights you get into boxing for, when you're a fan, is watching those big fights, those rivalries. They're usually domestic rivalries.

"They're the fights you want to be in. But also he's earned his shot. Some people think he (Riakporhe) can beat me and I look forward to proving them wrong."

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