Chris Billam-Smith RETAINS WBO Cruiserweight belt by unanimous decision as he survives Richard Riakporhe hugfest

CHRIS BILLAM-SMITH survived a Richard Riakporhe snugglefest to cling on to his WBO cruiserweight world title.

The Bournemouth champ had to go to Riakporhe’s Crystal Palace home to land a massive payday and it was well worth it after an easy night’s work.

In front of new Eagles manager Oliver Glasner, Riakporhe and hapless trainer Angel Fernandez got their tactics utterly wrong and blew their expensive chance as the judges called the hugfest 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112.

Riakporhe fizzed in the first couple of crisp jabs and drove a pair of his trademark right-hand equalisers onto CBS’ high and tight guard.

The 33-year-old Cherries fan poked and prodded but took no early risks on enemy ground.

Riakporhe, 34, wasted most of the second round holding on to CBS and pinning him back onto the ropes.

The experienced champion was too easily manhandled but was putting his punches together when they weren’t entangled.

Riakporhe landed a smart right hand in the third but spoiled the rest of the round by hugging and was warned for rubbing his forehead into CBS during one long and ugly embrace.

The fourth was tight and tasty, Riakporhe missed with a few wild power punches and CBS tagged his body.

But the challenger scored with other punches and CBS slipped into some bad old habits when he was easy to hit.

The middle rounds were hard to stomach as Riakporhe moved from hugs, to cuddles and eventually into snuggles.

But he did land the sixth round’s best shots and got Billam-Smith’s nose bleeding.

Referee Steve Gray was doing the shrinking audience a disservice by not punishing Riakporhe for the endless wrestling that was turning everyone off.

CBS enjoyed his best session in round eight, Riakporhe was hurt a couple of times and was briefly slumped over in the champ’s red corner.

Sweat and blood was slashed off his handsome face a couple of times as the Dorset dangerman grew into the bout.

Then CBS was buzzed as soon as the ninth started but Riakporhe’s follow-up was low so he was able to recover.

Then two more booming right hands had CBS in serious trouble, clinging on and desperately awaiting the bell, which saved him in the nick of time.

Riakporhe got his umpteenth verbal warning for holding and headbutting in the eleventh but still escaped a point deduction.

Chris Billiam-Smith knew he'd done enough to retain his title after the final
Chris Billiam-Smith knew he’d done enough to retain his title after the finalCredit: REUTERS
CBS' sights are set on becoming undisputed cruiserweight king
CBS’ sights are set on becoming undisputed cruiserweight kingCredit: PA

The final bell could not have come sooner after the 14st 4lbs rutted and wriggled for one final session.

Gray did finally take a point off Riakporhe for his incessant fouling and spoiling but the damage to CBS and the spectacle was already done.

CBS said: “I am really pleased. The difference was experience and speed and the gameplan.

“Shane McGuigan, my trainer, is a master.

“He can punch with his left and his right but our gameplan was the difference.

“I want to unify against another champion, I want to go to Vegas baby!”

Chris Billam-Smith RETAINS WBO Cruiserweight belt by unanimous decision as he survives Richard Riakporhe hugfest | The Sun

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