Richard Riakporhe retains his WBA inter-continental title!
What many people believed would be the fight of the night on the Dillian Whyte vs Oscar Rivas card, cruiserweight prospects Richard Riakporhe and Chris Billam-Smith put their identical undefeated records on the line.
Both men brought dangerous power into the ring but it would be Riakporhe who would have the slightly better resume and the WBA Inter-Continental title.
In addition, he is on the hunt to get top contender Lawrence Okolie in the ring who is a stablemate of Smith.
However, to put it lightly, this fight would be far from being dubbed “fight of the night” on any card!
Neutralizing the Threat
The 6’5″ champion had a game-plan that may have frustrated on-lookers early. He decided since he was not the more technically sound fighter of the two, he would impose himself on his opponent…literally!
Each time Smith attempted to get in range, Riakporhe would move in and lean all over his opponent. This would effectively keep the fighter from Dorset’s back on the ropes, rendering him useless offensively.
A snooze-fest to say the least, both men jostled and hugged while missing shots for the majority of the early and mid rounds. However, through it all, the champion seemed to control the pace of the fight while the other three criteria for judging were virtually even!
Looking For One Big Shot
It was frustrating to see Riakporhe only looking for one big right hand while the more technical Billam-Smith could not take advantage of the opportunities given.
While the underdog started to adjust to the ruggedness of his opponent, he would still get hit by ridiculously telegraphed right hands too easily. Moreover, he would get too comfortable when landing a combination which resulted in him staying defenselessly in range.
As a result in the seventh round, Smith would stick around after landing a combination to receive a huge left hook to the body, followed by a right and left hook to the head. The shots would stumble the underdog and the champion went in for the kill.
A barrage of shots left Smith hanging over the top ropes, in which the referee justifiably considered this a knockdown.
This would be the only “decisively” won round of the entire fight.
The End Of A Hug-Fest
In the end, it was refreshing when the final bell rung. This was the king of fight that could put an insomniac to sleep!
Neither fighter really did much, although, it was easy to see Riakporhe controlled the fight early and Billam-Smith controlled the latter rounds. The difference was the knockdown.
Eventually, the judges came to a split-decision. 96-94 for Billam-Smith and 97-92, 95-94 for Riakporhe! 3kingsboxing.com scored the fight 95-94 for the champion.
Riakporhe would narrowly escape the first loss of his career to the dismay of the fans and the commentary. He showed many flaws and as much as Okolie hasn’t looked impressive, Riakporhe should stay away from him!
By: EJ Williams