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HomeEntertainment NewsRichard Riakporhe: Madonna and modelling won't distract me from becoming world champion

Richard Riakporhe: Madonna and modelling won't distract me from becoming world champion

Richard Riakporhe insists his lavish lifestyle away from the ring is not a distraction as he seeks to fulfil his dream of becoming one of boxing’s dominant world champions.

‘The Midnight Train’ will fight for a world title for the first time in his career next Saturday when he challenges Chris Billam-Smith for the WBO cruiserweight belt at Selhurst Park.

Riakporhe’s ascent as one of boxing’s fiercest knockout merchants has coincided with his increased prominence outside of the sport in the form of modelling work with Burberry and Dior, not to mention being photographed with Madonna.

Having come this far, he has no plans to let anything slow his route to a title.

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Watch the best moments from Riakporhe’s win over Billam-Smith by split decision in 2019

The Gloves Are Off

Sunday 9th June 10:00pm

“It can, it can [be a risk of distraction], but for me, no, I love boxing,” Riakporhe said on The Gloves Are Off. “You know, boxing is my everything.

“I love competing, testing myself, testing my character, understanding and learning who I am as an individual, and I feel like I was built for this.”

Billam-Smith arrives as defending champion having become the first person to defeat Lawrence Okolie when the British rivals met in Bournemouth last year. It would cap a remarkable rise in the five-year period since he was dealt the first professional defeat of his career by Riakporhe back in 2019.

The 33-year-old’s life away from the ring is something of a complete contrast to that of Riakporhe. Not that he minds.

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Ellie Scotney and George Groves reveal what they believe could make the difference in Billam-Smith’s fight against Riakporhe

“I know he does modelling, he’s on the back of a few London buses, so it’s always nice to see those on the way to the gym and get some motivation there,” Billam-Smith joked. “But it’s all irrelevant, isn’t it? I’m not about that life.

“I’ve got a son at home who’s going to be two by the time the fight comes around. I’ve got my wife and my family, that’s what’s important to me, not a lavish lifestyle or anything like that. And then when it comes to me and my own selfish goals, it’s boxing and just being the best.

“I love to fight. I love to better myself every day in boxing, and that’s what I continue to do. And that’s what matters to me. And then just showing my son and my family and anyone from my area that may be inspired by me, that it can be done.”

Riakporhe’s journey has been equally staggering, having almost lost his life after being stabbed in the chest at the age of 15 before taking up boxing at the relatively late age of 19 and since establishing himself as one of the division’s most fearsome world title contenders.

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Riakporhe made a chilling prediction after it was announced he would face Billam-Smith at Selhurst Park

“Losing is not an option for me,” said Riakporhe. “I come from nothing. You wouldn’t understand where I come from.

“It’s things that just don’t need to be spoken about, but there’s no losing. As long as I’m awake and conscious, I’m leaving the victor.

“Chris Billam-Smith fans are going to come inside and they’re going to witness a tragedy. Their hero reduced to ashes, and south London prevails.

“I’m going to lift that WBO world title, I can see it and visualise it – WBO cruiserweight world champion, Richard Riakporhe. I deep down believe I’m the best. I’ve got everything.”

Billam-Smith and Riakporhe have regularly played down any suggestion that their first fight could have any lasting bearing on next weekend’s clash. For the champion, it is merely another defence.

“I’ve got a mandatory challenger in front of me who I’ve boxed before and seen box many times, so it’s not intimidating, it’s exciting,” said Billam-Smith. “It’s an exciting challenge. He’s a decent fighter, but not good enough.”

Watch Richard Riakporhe and Chris Billam-Smith trade words on the latest edition of The Gloves Are Off, on Sky Sports Action from 10pm on Sunday; Riakporhe challenges Billam-Smith for the WBO cruiserweight world title live on Sky on Saturday June 15.

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