CHRIS Billam-Smith is hoping to see a big contingent of supporters from Bournemouth make the trip up to London for his latest world title defence on Saturday.

After a run of headlining four shows in a row in his hometown of Bournemouth, selling out the BIC three times and last summer’s Vitality Stadium extravaganza, Billam-Smith is back on the road.

He is again fighting in another Premier League football stadium, this time taking on Londoner Richard Riakporhe at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.

It is Billam-Smith's second WBO cruiserweight title defence, having become world champion by beating Lawrence Okolie last summer. He then defended the belt with victory over Mateusz Masternak in December.

Asked if he is hopeful he will have a good army of Cherries fans making the trip to watch him in action, with his wife Mia again taking the role of chief ticket seller in the family, Billam-Smith told the Daily Echo: “I’m sure there will be a decent contingent coming up.

“We’ve sold a few tickets out of our hands, well Mia has anyway!

“I saw my brother’s mate and he said he’s got a double decker busload of people coming up, about 70 of them.

“So there’s a few people travelling and obviously I’ve got family and friends in both south London and all of London as well that will be coming.

“I’ll have a decent turnout there I’m sure. I’m looking forward to it.”

(Image: Richard Crease)

For Billam-Smith, it will be his second meeting with Riakporhe and a chance for revenge.

‘The Midnight Train’ boasts an unbeaten 17-0 record, which includes a string of knockout victories.

‘Gentleman’ Billam-Smith is 19-1, his only defeat coming against Riakporhe, by split decision in 2019.

Asked how different this fight will be to the two he faced last year, Billam-Smith said: “It will be different in some ways.

“I think he’s different to Masternak but there similarities to Lawrence, in terms of stature, a big powerful right hand, but probably carries a bit more power in his other shots as well.

“But I think Lawrence is probably more awkward.

“He obviously poses a threat in a lot of areas. He’s a very talented fighter and obviously carries a lot of power as well.”

The 33-year-old added: “I think he’s improved (since 2019), in a lot of areas.

“He’s a lot more calm and composed now and he’s got good shot selection.

“I think all-round he’s just more experienced and that’s definitely helped him be more calm and composed.”

There is still tickets available for the show, via the BOXXER website.

The undercard includes the likes of Isaac Chamberlain, Jack Massey, Ben Whittaker, Dan Azeez and Fran Hennessy.