CHRIS Billam-Smith enacted revenge on Richard Riakporhe to retain his WBO cruiserweight title with a unanimous points win at Selhurst Park.

Riakporhe came into the fight unbeaten, and as the only man who had inflicted defeat on Billam-Smith in his professional career.

But the Bournemouth man turned the tables from the split decision loss five years ago, extending his record to 20-1 after 12 gruelling rounds in Croydon, spoiling the 100 years of Selhurst Park celebrations.

Hometown favourite Riakporhe whipped up the south London crowd by beginning his walk-on with Crystal Palace’s famous ‘Glad All Over’ booming from the speakers, as Eagles boss Oliver Glasner took his seat ringside.

Billam-Smith then made his way to the ring to a mix of both cheers and boos, with around 6,000 of the Gentleman’s fans said to have travelled up from Bournemouth to support.

Home fighter Riakporhe, the bookmakers’ favourite to win, got off to a strong start, appearing to connect with two big left-hand shots early on.

The pace of the opening round then slowed, as Billam-Smith began complaining of holding from the Midnight Train, which became a feature of the initial skirmishes.

The referee stepped in during round two to have a word with both fighters for excessive leaning, Riakporhe seemingly the main instigator in slowing the pace, as Billam-Smith began to find some shots.

Billam-Smith then turned his attention to work on the inside, but there was very little to separate the two fighters in the first half of the fight.

Both men finished round six with a strong flurry, Billam-Smith suffering a graze close to his nose.

The fight really came to life in round eight. Riakporhe landed a couple of big right-hands, but Billam-Smith responded in kind and appeared to be turning the screw, against an opponent with a lack of recent ring-time.

Round nine was the best the Londoner produced on the night, a flurry of shots to the head of Billam-Smith, but the Gentleman stayed standing.

And when Riakporhe was docked a point for constantly leading attacks with the head in round 12, the job was done, sparking big celebrations from Billam-Smith and his trainer Shane McGuigan.

Billam-Smith felt he had won the last fight between the two in 2019, but the judges disagreed. This time, he gave them no choice. 

Their scorecards confirmed the result in the capital, by unanimous decision, 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112.

Billam-Smith turned to his right, to celebrate the result with his vocal travelling supporters.

Questions will now turn to what comes next for the Gentleman, with talk of potential unification bouts and possible fights in the US, Billam-Smith himself having a long-held dream of boxing in Las Vegas.