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Ben Whittaker and Jack Massey also picked up wins

Chris Billam-Smith pulled off another domestic upset in Selhurst Park today by avenging his lone career loss to Richard Riakporhe.

Riakporhe (17-1, 13 KO) entered the ring on the heels of five consecutive knockouts, but failed to ever get out of first gear in an ugly, clinch-heavy affair. Billam-Smith (20-1, 13 KO) consistently outworked Riakporhe, shrugged off his vaunted right hand, and just seemed like the busier and more effective fighter whenever they’d try and swat each other in the clinch.

Both men were warned more than once for roughhousing inside, but it was Riakporhe who finally pushed the ref over the edge and lost a point in the 12th for excessive use of his head.

That didn’t wind up making a difference, as one judge had it 116-111 for Billam-Smith and the other two had it 115-112. Bad Left Hook had it 118-109, though the slop admittedly made it difficult for me to focus.

Billam-Smith definitely looked sharper than against Mateusz Masternak last time out, enough so that I wouldn’t be opposed to seeing him try and unify against Gilberto Ramirez, Noel Mikaelian, or Jai Opetaia. With the score settled against Riakporhe, there’s not much left for him on the European scene and this fight satisfied his WBO mandatory obligation.

Whittaker fails to impress in co-feature

Tokyo silver medalist Ben Whittaker made his second consecutive trip to the judges after a one-sided but underwhelming fight with fellow unbeaten Eworitse Ezra Arenyeka.

It was, for the most part, exactly what it looked to be on paper. Whittaker (8-0, 5 KO) was too fast, too mobile, and too sharp for the plodding Arenyeka (12-1, 10 KO). Despite his dominance, though, he did little to endear himself to those not already in his corner. It’s clear at this point that Whittaker does not have high-level power and Arenyeka was just dangerous enough to keep Whittaker from truly excessive showboating, meaning viewers were left with high-volume but tension-free action.

The most entertaining moment came after the seventh round, when Whittaker cheekily tried to escort Arenyeka to his corner and ate a headbutt for it. Arenyeka went on to crack Whittaker with an elbow later that round and lose a point for it.

Whittaker did manage to hurt Arenyeka with a combination in the final seconds, but it wasn’t enough to salvage things, though he did get the consolation prize of 100-89, 99-90, 99-90 scorecards.

Massey outlasts Chamberlain to win European title

Short notice wasn’t enough to stop Jack Massey from claiming the European cruiserweight title with a hard-fought win over Isaac Chamberlain.

Massey (22-2, 12 KO), who stepped up a month ago when Michal Cieslak suffered an injury, jumped to an early lead with crisp movement and punching. Chamberlain (16-3, 8 KO) managed to land his share of solid shots, especially to the body, but consistently found himself a step behind.

That body work appeared to pay off as the fight moved into the second half, as Chamberlain put on a strong effort in the seventh before nearly stopping Massey with a massive barrage late in the eighth. Despite seemingly being out of steam, though, Massey re-established his technical superiority as Chamberlain failed to capitalize. Both men were forced to gut their ways through the final rounds, with Massey ultimately emerging victorious with a pair of 115-113 cards and a 116-112.

This is far and away the best win of Massey’s career and at least somewhat exonerates Joseph Parker for failing to overwhelm him when they met at heavyweight last year. As for Chamberlain, he may be regretting not defending his British title against Cheavon Clarke.

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