Richard Riakporhe and Dan Azeez will be tested

Richard Riakporhe and Dan Azeez star in exciting all-London clash to top the bill at Wembley Arena, writes John Dennen

TWO short-notice replacement opponents have not only saved Sky Sports’ Wembley Arena show on Saturday (March 26), they’ve made it better. Richard Riakporhe is in an intriguing all-British, all-London cruiserweight clash with Deion Jumah.

As a professional Riakporhe has worked his way into the world top 10, now rated the number nine contender by Boxing News. He’s been steadily impressive, beating Sam Hyde, Tommy McCarthy, Chris Billam-Smith and Jack Massey one after the other before the pandemic. He came back with two wins in 2021 to go 13-0 (9). Last time out, his opponent Olanrewaju Durodola seemed unambitious but Riakporhe still handled him with solid straight shots before putting him over with a dangerous left hook and then finishing Durodola on the ropes with brutal power in five rounds.

Riakporhe may still be developing but he has the ingredients to be a formidable fighter. Jumah however will pose him new problems. A southpaw who is physically strong, Jumah can move well and is also unbeaten in his professional career. But he has been plagued by injuries and enforced absences from the ring. This is the big chance he’s been waiting for in his hard journey through boxing. He will be highly motivated because he has to win this to stay among top-level competition.

His opposition overall has not been as good as Riakporhe’s, with his best win coming against Sam Hyde in Manchester in 2020. Riakporhe’s better professional experience is likely to make a difference. If he wins the physical clash, Riakporhe can force his way to a decision win after a challenging fight.

“I believe I stop him,” Richard contended. “It’s a good fight – he’s southpaw, he can box, he’s undefeated. But I can box southpaw as well, so we will see what happens on March 26. The most important thing is to get the win, by any means necessary.”

Matthew Tinker is another southpaw from amateur club Dale Youth coming in at short notice to save the show. He takes on Dan Azeez in what could be a tremendous British title fight. Tinker has been under the radar as a pro, going 8-0 while fighting in America. He can box though. As an amateur he consistently fought quality light-heavies, including a good bout that he lost against Joshua Buatsi, as well as beating Azeez himself.

The British champion wants revenge, he’s likely to get it. Expect Tinker, moving in and out with well-placed jabbing, to give Azeez problems early on. But the champion is in great form, his triumph over Hosea Burton last time out was a forceful display of intelligent pressure. He should take over in the second half of the contest and could force a stoppage if the limited preparation time catches up with Tinker. It might even become a fight worthy of a rematch.

“He’s a hell of a fighter. I said why not, put him in there,” Azeez said of Tinker. “I’d love to get my revenge on him for the pasting he gave me.
“He’s a good fighter, top lad, top boxer and we can make a top fight.”

The champion warns he’s a different fighter now. “The achievement speaks for itself,” Dan said. “My coach has the quality to be able to take someone who’s absolutely crap, so to speak, and have the patience to get them through and watch them develop and give them that time and that’s what my coach Brian O’Shaughnessy has done.”

Adam Azim, in only his fourth professional bout, goes into a real test against tall Southern Area lightweight champion Connor Marsden. Azim is sharp, quick and an explosive puncher. There was real buzz about Azim as a junior and youth amateur boxer and hype understandably is building behind him at this early stage of his pro career. This out however is a risk. Marsden has been stopped by Craig Woodruff so there is vulnerability there. But he’s also learned from that fighting and beating Boy Jones was a good professional victory. Marsden wasn’t an amateur ‘star’ as such, but he was accomplished at senior level. He can handle himself. The unknown for Azim is that he hasn’t fought a senior boxer with a winning record yet. He could handle the step up with ease. Or, if Marsden can take his power, Connor could give Azim a very difficult night. It makes this fight, in my view, 50-50. Marsden could win this on points. If he does, it wouldn’t make Azim a bad fighter all of a sudden, it would just be a very valuable lesson.

His brother Hassan Azim joins him on the bill.

Tokyo Olympian Caroline Dubois has her second professional fight. For all her amateur accolades, which included winning silver at the European Olympic qualification event and taking gold at the World Youth and Youth Olympic Games, she needs to settle into the pro sport. No doubt she will do so, look for her to continue to showcase her skillset.

Louis Greene and Harry Scarfe fight for the English welterweight title. Joe Pigford, a hard punching super-welterweight, is on the show and Chris Kongo comes back from his loss to Michael McKinson. Jamie Tshikeva, Jimmy Lee and Shannon Ryan all have first pro fights. Boxxer promote.

The Verdict Riakporhe and Azeez will be tested by their rivals.

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