No fighter in the cruiserweight division wants to come up against Richard Riakporhe’s deadly one-punch power, believes BOXXER CEO Ben Shalom.
The Londoner continued his world-title assault on Saturday with a devastating second-round stoppage of Italy’s Fabio Turchi, ending their IBF eliminator with a left hook to the body of his opponent.
It extended Riakporhe’s perfect record to 15-0 and put his rivals on alert as he eyes a shot at one of the belts later this year.
“He’s an incredible specimen, that was his left hand, imagine when his right hand connects,” said Shalom. “I genuinely believe nobody wants to get in the ring with Richard Riakporhe, ask anybody who has sparred with him.
“I was asked recently, ‘who is the biggest puncher you’ve ever seen?’ and I said Richard Riakporhe, people laughed, this guy is the biggest puncher I’ve seen.
Among those potential lying in wait are IBF champion Mairis Briedis, WBC champion Ilunga Makabu and WBA champion Arsen Goulamirian, while Riakporhe and Shalom also have one eye on an eventual all-British clash with WBO holder Lawrence Okolie.
“Next, Makabu, Briedis, Goulamirian, he’ll take them all. I know Richard wants (Okolie), more than anything,” said Shalom.
“He is a superstar, we want to see him develop in the right way, we want to see him take it up a level. I’m just so happy for him and I hope people put some respect on him.”
“I think he can fight for a world title this year, it will come down, if Angel (Fernandez), Robert Garcia and Richard feel like he’s ready, for me he can.
“Richard Riakporhe will be a world champion, whether it’s the next fight or one after, 100 per cent.”
Riakporhe: Champions have been ducking and diving me
Speaking to Sky Sports the day after his victory over Turchi, Riakporhe said the cruiserweight champions have been “ducking and diving” him, and believes a fight with Lawrence Okolie would be the “greatest” in the divsion.
Asked if his win sent out a message to other fighters, Riakporhe said: “Yes it did, and if it didn’t then that would be very confusing. You know I’m a threat.
“All the rest of the champions they’ve been ducking and diving me because they know that it’s a very risky fight. They have to make sure that they get a big reward. Me, Boxxer, Sky Sports – we’re ready to make it happen.”
The 32-year-old says he is prepared to fight any champion willing to step up.
“I don’t mind – any champion,” he said. “I just want to get my hands on one of those belts and everybody has full belief and faith in myself, as well as myself, that I would get one of those belts. It doesn’t really matter – every single champion poses a threat .”
Riakporhe said a fight with Okolie could happen next year, but said “politics” could make things difficult.
“I think the fans will love that,” he said. “I think that’s the greatest fight in the cruiserweight division at the moment – me versus Lawrence Okolie. I think that could happen maybe next year, but we’ll see.
“I think Okolie wants to unify, and then he may want to move up to heavyweight so it all depends.
“There’s a lot of politics in boxing, unfortunately, and it’s all about just making sure all the parties are happy, but I’m willing and I’m sure he’s willing. I think we can make it happen.”
Nelson warns world champions: “Fight him now!”
Sky Sports’ Johnny Nelson delivered a stern warning to Riakporhe’s cruiserweight rivals to take him on now, or risk bumping into an even better, more confident and more accomplished further version of The Midnight Train down the line.
“The way he’s talking, the way he’s walking, the way he’s fighting, now I’m believing,” said Nelson. “I said before I didn’t think he had the confidence to match his ability.
“From the press conference I’m thinking ‘he’s talking differently’. Now he’s believing what he can do. He’s developed an edge about him where I like what I’m seeing.
“The champions out there need to get him now rather than two or three fights down the line because this boy will be unbeatable.
“I would actually say Briedis over Makabu, Makabu is wily, yes he’s takeable but I think he’ll get more credit for getting rid of somebody like Briedis, and he’ll beat him, I know he’ll beat him.”