Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom said there’s “a special narrative” ahead of the rematch between WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe, the only man to have defeated him in the professionals. 

Bournemouth hero Billam-Smith is making the second defense of his title, and he is doing it on enemy territory, at Selhurst Park, home of Crystal Palace Football Club, who Riakporhe supposedly supports.

Billam-Smith, a die-hard Bournemouth AFC fan, won his world title at the home-ground of his beloved team last summer, but on Saturday (June 15) has an away fixture against his old rival.

“I think it’s fascinating that you’ve got a world champion, having only lost to one person, and his mandatory is that person, and that it’s two British guys, and it’s a stadium fight, I mean it’s got everything,” Shalom said. “And the history of it… I think Chris Billam-Smith, knowing him, would have probably wanted it [the loss] off his record, regardless of the mandatory. 

“The mandatory was called, now the fight happens and it’s a special narrative between these two. I think they’re the two best domestic cruiserweights that we have out there, and you’re going to see them put it on the line.”

There were negotiations for Billam-Smith to again box at the Vitality Stadium, but the dates did not align with the vebnue and now several thousand of Billam-Smith’s Bournemouth fanbase is expected to make the trip to London.

“I think we tried our best to get it in Bournemouth,” Shalom added. “If I’m honest, Chris Billam-Smith got his world title against Lawrence Okolie in his home town. He got his world title in Bournemouth. We’d have loved to have gone to Bournemouth again, but he’s an ultimate professional and he’s a champion, and when I signed him he fought Isaac Chamberlain within six weeks. 

“He just wants the biggest fights possible. This is South London. This is not far from Bournemouth to get to, a couple of hours, and I expect him to have a huge travelling support. I actually expect it to be pretty even in there when it comes to the night because of the nature of his support, and I think he’ll thrive on this. 

“And speaking to his family, a lot of them say they prefer this. The pressure’s off. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re fighting at your home town and there’s that much expectation, that many people, and he had a very special night last year and will fight in another stadium in June and it’s great to deliver for both guys.

“I genuinely think 10,000 will come from Bournemouth and I expect to do over 20,000. I think it’s the British thing. And a stadium fight adds so much more, the experience, the summer, two guys that know each other very well, a world title. I think it’s the British show of the summer. I think it will be spectacular.” 

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