The Monday LunchBox

World ranked cruiserweight Richard Riakporhe.
Photo: Lawrence Lustig/BOXXER

Some excellent contests and performances over the weekend continued the positive return of boxing to British rings.

Honourable mention goes to Josh Warrington who successfully regained his IBF world featherweight (9st/126lbs) title defeating Spain’s Kiko Martinez in the First Direct Arena, Leeds. It was an action packed bout in front of a capacity and deafening crowd in attendance to cheer on their hero ‘Leeds Warrior’ Warrington. The bout was promoted by Matchroom Boxing and shown live on the DAZN streaming channel.

The challenger met Martinez head on from the opening bell, fighting with wreckless abandon and the intensity of his attack almost overwhelmed the Spaniard in the first round. After an early clash of heads the Leeds man clipped the champion dropping him in the first and the pattern of the bout was set – Warrington surging forward with dynamic sorties and Martinez fighting out of a low crouch, attempting to catch his opponent with overhand counters.

Despite a brave first defence from Martinez the end came at 2:12 of the seventh with a big overhand right and relentless follow up blows forcing referee Marcus McDonnell to step in and halt the fight.

This capped one of the finest performances from Warrington (31-1-1, 8 KO’s) repeating his earlier victory against the Spaniard by the shorter route. At 31 years old he looks to move onto marquee unification fights or a possible domestic showdown with fellow franchise world champion Leigh Wood. Martinez dropped to 43-11-2 (30 KO’s) and at aged 36 is likely be finished at this level.

In London, on an excellent BOXXER promotion there were good victories for world ranked cruiserweight Richard Riakporhe who stopped Deion Juma, and new British light-heavyweight champion Dan Azeez who continued his upward trend by halting Reece Cartwright, thereby avenging a defeat to the same opponent in the amateur code.

Riakporhe (14-0, 10 KO’s) had early trouble with Juma’s southpaw stance and movement but detonated a counter right at the end of the fourth round that momentarily poleaxed his opponent. Juma rose quickly taking the count and after surviving the round was always wary of the bigger punching Riakporhe. The fight was nip and tuck for the remaining rounds until the tall Riakporhe landed a wicked body shot to the solar plexus leaving Jumah in agony on all fours and crawling around the ring. The referee had seen enough by then and called the fight off. Jumah drops to 14-1 (7 KO’s).

Riakporhe is ranked #7 by the World Boxing Council and although can be one paced and sometimes over cautious is an undoubted heavy hitter. The ‘Midnight Train’ is a big man with bad intentions. Competition amongst British cruiserweights (14st,4lbs/200lbs) is looking good and big fights await with current WBO world champion Lawrence Okolie or a number of others at world level. The south Londoner is well placed to cash in when the opportunity arises.

British champion Dan Azeez (16-0, 11 KO’s) struggled early doors to build on the momentum of his title winning effort against Hosea Burton, with Reece Cartwright (23-3, 14 KO’s) giving him all manner of problems. Mid-fight after getting his second wind the champion started to up the pace and Cartwright took a lot of punishment with his face getting more marked up as the rounds progressed. The fight was eventually stopped by the referee in the eighth after Cartwright’s corner threw the towel in saving their fighter further punishment. Despite defeat, it was a good performance by Cartwright who’d taken the fight at less than a week’s notice.

Azeez was not at his best but now looks to build on his recent momentum with a potential sequence of fights in a domestically stacked 12st,7lbs/175lbs division.

Some young prospects also registered impressive stoppage victories with the most spectacular being Adam Azim (4-0, 3 KO’s) destructing Conor Marsden (6-2, 5 KO’s) within 30 seconds. Twenty one year old female GB Olympian Caroline Dubois (2-0, 1 KO) halted Hungary’s Martina Horgasz (5-19, 4 KO’s) with a textbook body attack.

The atmosphere inside the OVO Wembley Arena was rowdy all night with a large number of soccer fans in the house supporting Riakporhe, a passionate Crystal Palace FC fan. There was also a south coast soccer contingent with Southampton born Joe Pigford extending his record to 19-0 (18 KO’s) over tough Argentinian David Romero. Another impressive night of boxing live on Sky Sports continued the upward trajectory of the BOXXER franchise.

In the US, the main card was a Top Rank show from Resorts World, Las Vegas. Comebacking Mexican Miguel Berchelt was a shadow of his former-self being stopped by Namibian Jeremiah Nakathila after six one sided rounds. The bout at lightweight was between two fringe contenders who’ve moved into the 9st,9lbs/135lbs division after recent defeats in a lower weight class. Much was expected of Belchelt being a former WBC world champion.

Nakathila (23-2, 19 KO’s) was dominant throughout the bout and goes onto stiffer challenges. Berchelt (38-3, 34 KO’s) will have to regroup to get anywhere near a world title again.

An interesting week awaits with the hype building towards the Tyson Fury-Dillian Whyte heavyweight showdown on April 23 and further news on the returning Anthony Joshua and unified champion Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk.

This regular feature is to also raise awareness of the Ringside Charitable Trust.

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