SHANE MCGUIGAN Says Richard Riakporhe Should Concentrate on Fighting One of the Top Cruiserweight Fighters, Not Chris Billam-Smith
On Saturday night, McGuigan trained Billam-Smith 18-1(12) to a brave majority win over Lawrence Okolie. It was the biggest night of the 32-year-old’s career, played in front of a crowd of 15,000 at the Vitality Stadium in Bournemouth.
Billam-Smith, Okolie and Riakporhe are all signed to Boxxer and Sky, with the latter of the three Brits calling for a fight against the man he defeated four years ago in a 10-round decision.
Riakporhe was talking Sky Sports on his desire to face the new belt holder: “It’s big and that’s how we envisioned the rematch at this stage, at this level. And when is a better time? The time is now. Why not?”
But McGuigan has his eye on a much bigger name that might even tick off another item on Billam-Smith’s bucket list.
“Why don’t you go after (Arsen) the Goulimirian? Why didn’t you go after Lawrence Okoli? He said about Riakporhe when talking to him Boxing news in the early hours of Sunday morning.
“It took Chris Billam-Smith to beat Lawrence Okoli to cool him down. I beat you in the first fight.
“Fight Lawrence, fight Goulimirian or fight (Jai) Opetaia. Fight one of them! You won’t get a fight with Badou Jack. Badou Jack is waiting for Canelo and if he is waiting for Canelo (then) CBS should get a fight against Canelo! I’m not even joking. We won’t go to Guadalajra, maybe we’ll go to Vegas.
Billam-Smith’s immediate future, after rest, could lie in another fight with Okolie, who was given a rematch clause as part of his contract. NB asked CBS about his thoughts on the subject and the future.
“He’s a proud man, he’s a winner at heart and I think a rematch makes sense for him and why shouldn’t you. You have a shot at the world title again, it’s not like I lit it up. At times it was a chaotic fight, a clear winner. Yes, I hurt him. I would expect him to want a rematch.
The fight at Vitality Stadium was a dream come true for a “Gentleman” who went on to become one of boxing’s best stories. It was an unforgettable night for the player, his family and the team. But what’s next?
“The next dream is probably Vegas. I’d like to fight in Vegas,” he replied.
“Unfortunately, there are no American cruiserweight champions (with) world titles out there at the moment. It was said that once a Mexican (Canelo) was moving up to cruiserweight and had good tickets in Vegas! I think Vegas would be the next thing on my bucket list.”
Not too long ago, Canelo lined up to fight Ilunga Makabu at cruiserweight. During the November 2021 WBC convention, Canelo’s manager and trainer Eddy Reynoso submitted a request to challenge Makabu for the belt. The fight never took place.
After conquering the super middleweight division, Canelo moved up to light heavyweight to challenge Dmitry Bivol in May 2022, but lost 115–113 on all scorecards. A rematch is planned for September.