Chris Billam-Smith next fight: Gilberto Ramirez and Jai Opetaia in sights after Richard Riakporhe revenge

Champion: Chris Billam-Smith retained his WBO cruiserweight title against Richard Riakporhe (Getty Images)
Champion: Chris Billam-Smith retained his WBO cruiserweight title against Richard Riakporhe (Getty Images)

Chris Billam-Smith is targeting massive cruiserweight unification clashes with Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez and Jai Opetaia after his comprehensive win over Richard Riakporhe.

The reigning WBO world champion at 200lbs successfully defended the belt he took from Lawrence Okolie on an unforgettable night in Bournemouth last year for the second time at Selhurst Park on Saturday night, producing arguably the best performance of his career to date to follow a far more low-key win over Mateusz Masternak in December.

Billam-Smith dominated the majority of the high-profile main event at the home of Premier League football club Crystal Palace, claiming a unanimous decision victory to move to 20-1 and avenge the only defeat of his professional career so far, which came against Riakporhe back in the summer of 2019.

Now ‘The Gentleman’ has his sights firmly set on a first fight in the United States, where he would hope to try and become a unified world champion as he targets Mexico’s Zurdo Ramirez, who outpointed Arsen Goulamirian in California in March to become the new WBA cruiserweight title-holder. He has since left Golden Boy Promotions.

Billam-Smith would also be open to a showdown with Opetaia, the unbeaten Australian who regained the IBF crown with his rematch win over veteran Mairis Briedis on the Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undercard in Saudi Arabia last month.

“These are big fights but I really want to box in America, that’s the next dream for me,” Billam-Smith told Sky Sports. “I really want to box over there.

“I’ll fight either of them over there, obviously Zurdo is based over there. I think he’s a free agent at the moment as well.

“I’d love to fight over there. I went over there with Luke Campbell a couple of times during his career and those were amazing trips. I would love to do one myself and just make some more memories.”

Responding to Billam-Smith, Opetaia tweeted on Saturday night: “They talk a lot but they don’t do much… let these other belt holders come.”