Chris Billam-Smith believes cruiserweight rival Richard Riakporhe will pose less of a challenge than Lawrence Okolie when they go head to head later this year.

WBO champion Billam-Smith knocked Okolie down three times before claiming a majority decision victory at the Vitality Stadium last year.

The Bournemouth fighter, who suffered his only professional loss to Riakporhe in a narrow points defeat in 2019, has been handed a rematch with his former foe.

Billam-Smith claims Riakporhe’s only real threat is his power, insisting he will not be out-boxed by the mandatory challenger.

“I think Okolie is a better fighter than Riakporhe,” Billam-Smith told the PA news agency.

“Stylistically Okolie is the much harder fight. He’s a lot harder to hit clean, which makes this fight more exciting for the fans because there will be less holding.

“The only thing he’s (Riakporhe) got over me is one-punch power. I think that is his only hope to be honest and I can’t see him out-boxing me, breaking me down or anything like that.

Lawrence Okolie v Chris Billam-Smith – Vitality Stadium
Billam-Smith dominated Okolie to claim cruiserweight gold last May (Steven Paston/PA)

“Okolie also had one-punch power over me and I won that fight, but it doesn’t mean I can’t punch as I continue to prove.

“I don’t think he’s had that much experience in terms of that top level. He’s had a few good domestic wins. That win against Deion Jumah is probably his best win to be honest with you.

“At the top level I’ve faced a lot of adversity in my career and I think that will be the difference.”

Since their last fight five years ago, Billam-Smith (19-1-0) has gone on a 10-fight winning streak, claiming notable victories over Isaac Chamberlain, Okolie and Mateusz Masternak along the way.

And the 33-year-old now wants to make amends for the only blemish on his professional record.

“It’s a fight which will really top the last few years off for me,” he said. “He’s given me the only defeat on my record and it will be nice to set that straight.

“When you look at the cruiserweight scene it clears everything up domestically, it cleans this golden generation we have up at the moment and it leaves me on top, so that’s the motivation for me.

“This fight is big for my career and for my legacy. I’m a world champion and I want to stay as one. This is the best cruiserweight scene we’ve ever had, so for me to come out on top of that would be massive for me.

“Richard’s got the win over me, I need to put that right, I need to put it to bed and I’m excited for that prospect.”

:: Chris Billam-Smith features in Stable: The Boxing Game, produced by Lorton Entertainment, available to watch on BBC iPlayer.