BY RICHARD CAWLEY
Richard Riakporhe retained his WBA intercontinental cruiserweight title with a split decision win over Chris Billam-Smith.
The bout between two unbeaten fighters – with identical 9-0 records going into the contest at Greenwich’s 02 Arena – was a scrappy but still entertaining affair.
Riakporhe was guilty of looking for single power shots too often and also rushed in too quickly when he did have the challenger hurt.
But the Walworth man also inflicted a count on Billam-Smith in the seventh round – and that proved to be crucial when it came to the scorecards.
One judge gave it 96-93 to Billam-Smith with another going the other way – 97-92 to the South Londoner. The final scorecard – 95-94 – saw Riakporhe just squeeze home.
Both men landed some big shots but Riakporhe carried the greater power. The bout was a draining affair with both men grappling and threatening to topple out of the ring at stages.
There was too much clinching and holding but the clean work that was done by both men made it highly watchable.
It is the first time since his debut that Riakporhe has gone the distance.
PICTURES BY KEITH GILLARD