ON August 8 Jai Opetaia and Richard Riakporhe will discover if their respective promoters have coughed up enough money to give their fight a significant advantage.
The two cruiserweights have been ordered to face one another by the IBF whose belt is in the hands of Opetaia.
After Mateusz Masternak withdrew from his position as mandatory challenger Richard Riakporhe was next in line. The 33-year-old has been in excellent form since joining Ben Shalom and Boxxer in 2021. Five wins in two years have thrust the unbeaten Londoner into the mix to face the very best at 200lbs. ‘The Midnight Train’ kept Shalom on board by signing a contract extension in May.
Opetaia’s career has stalled since his magnificent win over former cruiserweight ruler Mairis Briedis last summer. One of the biggest upsets of the year demonstrated the Australian’s abilities as well as his toughness having won with a fractured jaw.
Issues outside the ring have prevented the champion from building on his famous victory. The 28-year-old’s fortunes recently took a turn for the better this month when he joined forces with Eddie Hearn who has signed a host of fighters from Down Under over the last two years.
“No one wants to fight Jai and that’s the problem – they know they’re going to get beat,” Opetaia’s manager Mick Francis told AAP.
“It doesn’t matter if they fight on the Gold Coast, the UK or on the moon. He’s the baddest cruiserweight we’ve seen, and we’ve never had anyone genuinely call out Jai, ever.”
The August 8 purse bids pits Matchroom against Boxxer once again after May’s debacle which saw a fight between British heavyweight champion Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke go down the drain. Should Hearn win next month then the likelihood is Opetaia vs Riakporhe will land in Australia. Should Shalom come up trumps then Riakporhe will get home advantage in England.
“You’ve got two of the biggest boxing powerhouses in the UK going at it now, plenty of pride on the line there to get this fight,” Francis said.
“Eddie has made it clear he wants to do it in Australia and put Justis [Huni] on the undercard.
“He’s got Stevie Spark at Matchroom too, Conor Wallace… we could put on a massive, high-quality card and I know Gold Coast wants to be the boxing capital of Australia.”