Chris Billam-Smith will make the second defense of his WBO cruiserweight title on June 15 at Selhurst Park against old rival Richard Riakporhe.

The fight has been in the offing for several months, with Billam-Smith keen again to fight in front of his Bournemouth fans at the Vitality Stadium, where he won the crown from Lawrence Okolie last year, but now having to head to Selhurst Park in London.

The champion, 33, and Riakporhe boxed as upcoming prospects in 2019, with Riakporhe winning a split decision at the O2 Arena, a venue that was also in the running to host the rematch. 

Billam-Smith defended his title for the first time in December, at the Bournemouth International Centre, with an eighth-round retirement win over tough Polish veteran Mateusz Masternak. 

He is trained by Shane McGuigan and is now 19-1 (13 KOs), while the 34-year-old challenger is 17-0 (13 KOs) and last boxed in November, with a routine stoppage win over outgunned Frenchman Dylan Bregeon.

Selhurst Park is the home of Premier League soccer club Crystal Palace and can hold more than 25,000 fans for soccer.

“I’m looking forward to giving the Bournemouth fans an away day to remember with an explosive performance, live on Sky Sports,” said Billam-Smith. “Richard is a good fighter, but I’ve improved hugely since we last met and he’s going to be in for a terrible night at Selhurst Park. The WBO belt is coming back with me to Bournemouth.”

“My time has come,” countered Riakporhe. “The countdown is on. I’m the runaway ‘Midnight Train’ that you cannot stop and it’s the end of the line for Chris Billam-Smith. I can’t wait to knock Chris out and take his title. I’ve beaten him once and I’m ready to do it again. This time it’s not going to the judges. He’s going to be out cold on the canvas and the world title is going to be staying in South London.

Promoter Ben Shalom was pleased to get the pair together, after Riakporhe had worked his way up to the mandatory position and as the only man to have beaten Billam-Smith to date.

Chris Billam-Smith has huge support on the south coast, and we expect the AFC Bournemouth faithful to travel in huge numbers to support him as he puts his WBO world title on the line against the only man to beat him,” said Shalom. “It’s a dream come true for Richard Riakporhe as he gets his world title shot in front of his fellow Crystal Palace fans at Selhurst Park.

“With more big fight announcements to follow, this is the event in British boxing not to miss this summer.”

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