London fighter Richard Riakporhe has said he would welcome a rematch with Chris Billam-Smith in 2023.
The cruiserweights’ first fight of 2019 was a close contest, with Riakporhe winning by a split decision.
Riakporhe had a ringside seat on Saturday as Billam-Smith, 32, ended the year with a big knockout against Armend Xhoxhaj.
“It would be terrible for me to turn down fights. I can beat him better next time,” said Riakporhe, 32. 5 Live Boxing.
Riakporhe has moved to 15-0 since beating Billam-Smith while his rival improved his record to 17-1 by stopping Xhoxhaj in front of his home fans.
Billam-Smith said before the Xhoxhaj fight that he had accepted a proposal to face Riakporhe again, but he was told his rival did not want to fight him at Bournemouth.
“We tried to make this fight for January, but it failed,” Riakporhe said.
“They probably want to make it big and everyone has their reasons.”
Both men are now on the verge of winning the world title, but Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom believes the domestic rematch is a “bigger fight” than a world title shot.
Shalom, who promotes both men, says he hopes to make the fight in 2023, but a world title at Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium for Billam-Smith was the No.1 priority.
“They’ve both made giant strides now and are approaching world title level in their own right, but I think a rematch is a bigger fight,” he said.
“However, Chris Billam-Smith deserves a world title opportunity and he will get what he wants, but it will definitely be away at Bournemouth next year.”
Billam-Smith echoed his promoter’s words saying, “We want that world title fight at Dean Court or Vitality Stadium now. That’s the dream for me.”
“I want to step up”
Olympian Caroline Dubois capped off her year with another quick knockout, stopping Sofia Rodriguez in one minute on the undercard at Bournemouth.
Dubois, 21, has had a perfect start to his career with four saves in five fights since February.
The lightweight is eager to move up to the elite level quickly with the undefeated Katie Taylor of Ireland reigning supreme as the undisputed division champion.
“I want to step up,” Dubois said.
“Next year I’m going to step in and have an eight round against a good girl. We already have the name lined up, she’s a good girl, I’ve been with some really good people.
“And I want to step in and see how I do against her. If I can stop her, that will tell me that my power and my ability are real.
“By the end of next year, I want to fight for titles.”