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Angry McGuigan Insists Riakporhe’s Comments On Billam-Smith Damage Are ‘Off Base’

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Shane McGuigan was angered by Richard Riakporhe’s claims that the WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billam-Smith has already had too many hard fights.

Billam-Smith defends his WBO cruiserweight title on Saturday against Riakporhe, who defeated him on points over 10 rounds five years ago. Billam-Smith is now 19-1 and has made one defense of his title; Riakporhe is 17-0 (13 KOs).

At the press conference to formally announce their fight at Selhurst Park, Riakporhe said: “A lot of boxing people would agree with me. Boxing is wear and tear on the body and it’s a fact – we’re deteriorating all the time, and some people are deteriorating faster depending on how much damage you take, and we’ve all seen Chris’ fights. He’s always in gruelling fights; takes a lot of shots. Shane’s always saying, ‘Move your head, you’re taking too many shots, you’re making mistakes, don’t take them silly shots’, and every single shot that you take, it takes a toll on the body. 

“It’s a fact. It’s science. And I’ve seen CBS deteriorate in that regard.

“We’ve seen guys that are tough and we believe they have the chin and the capabilities to take damage, but once you keep on knocking on the glass and you get that crack, it takes a little bit of a shot with some accuracy to shatter the whole thing. And that’s what I feel will happen to CBS on that night.”

McGuigan, son of hall-of-fame fighter Barry, did not welcome the analogy or the comments. On the contrary. The trainer told BoxingScene: “I think he’s off base. I know he’s off base. I am an extreme realist when it comes to collateral damage. If you looked at that documentary [Stable] which I did with BBC I was worried for Robbie Davies after one of his fights and I said there’s much more to life than boxing. 

“And no matter how much money, titles, all that… Look, my dad’s world-title belt is in the basement in a trunk [chest]. He hasn’t taken it out in 10 years-plus. He doesn’t care about that. 

“It’s all about life after boxing. It’s all about family time and being coherent enough to be the same human being and I would never, ever, ever, let that risk, on my conscience, if Chris was deteriorating. I didn’t like that comment. 

“It has no value or merit. If you talk to him, his eyes are clear, he’s as lucid as he ever has been. Maybe from a cuts perspective, stuff like that – scar tissue – then yes, you could maybe point at that. That is where wear and tear happens.”

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