Ben Shalom has dismissed suggestions Boxxer took a risk by staging the rematch between Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park.

Billam-Smith, 34 and the WBO cruiserweight champion, has a loyal following in distant Bournemouth but Riakporhe was considerably less established and less associated with Palace as a football club, regardless of his south London roots.

The stadium – Palace are established in the English Premier League – had been earmarked to host the sought-after light-heavyweight fight between Joshua Buatsi, of Croydon, and Anthony Yarde, of east London, for which Billam-Smith-Riakporhe II would have been the chief support.

In the region of 12,000 supporters were ultimately present to watch the fight in a weight division that is among the world’s less celebrated, and the occasion therefore delivered when there perhaps had been the risk of there being too small a crowd to justify the chosen venue, but Shalom said: “We knew it was gonna do fairly well, because it’s June; because it’s outdoor; because it doesn’t happen a lot, and Palace have a huge season-ticket support. 

“Then you’ve got Chris Billam-Smith in the mix. The reality is you were left with a decision where you’ve got a big fight, and do you want to go to The O2 in June? Wembley Arena in June? Not really. This was a huge opportunity. It’s a domestic world-title fight – we did the same in Bournemouth [when Billam-Smith defeated Lawrence Okolie].

“The O2’s an expensive venue. From a business point of view this was a similar cost to The O2. Do you want to do an outdoor event or an indoor event? The choice was obvious. It was a lot of work for us, but we wanted to put on a spectacle for these fights, and were making dreams come true, and that’s what it’s all about. Huge, huge night for British boxing, and a domestic world-title fight – you don’t get many of them anymore. Special night. 

“We know what Chris Billam-Smith sells. We know domestic world-title fights sell. Sometimes when you go to a football club it does better. Chris Billam-Smith did 15,000 [tickets] in Bournemouth. Sometimes with a club behind you, and the season tickets, you know it’s going to do well.”

Billam-Smith earned a deserved unanimous decision over the disappointing Riakporhe, also 34 and the local fighter on Saturday night.

“You look at the cost of an event [at Selhurst Park] and an event at The O2 and, thankfully, to be honest, [Palace chairman] Steve Parish and Selhurst Park wanted to do it so much,” Shalom continued. “Sometimes you see stadium fights don’t happen – we actually tried for Liam Smith for Anfield for the second [Chris] Eubank [Jr] fight – they can, sometimes, be cost prohibitive. If the stadium don’t want it; if they’ve got other things they want to do; if they want to do the pitch… They wanted this. 

“It’s the 100-year celebrations for Selhurst Park. It’s a massive celebration for them – four [England] players in the Euros; they’re on a high right now. This is something that they give back to their fans, and there’s a big charity angle to it as well. There’s a portion of the money going to the Crystal Palace Foundation, which is close to Richard’s heart and close to the club’s heart. It all came together. You need the stadium and the club to really want to do it, and, thankfully, they were really up for it.”