- Richard Riakporhe Withdrew From His Mandatory Position To Jai Opetaia Last Week
- There Has Been Criticism Targeted At Riakporhe And BOXXER For The Last Minute Pull Out
- Ben Shalom Has Now Given His Version Of Events Claiming Matchroom’s Signing Of Opetaia Was Primarily To Disrupt BOXXER’s Plans
The IBF officially ordered their Cruiserweight champion Australia’s Jai Opetaia to face Britain’s Richard Riakporhe after Poland’s Mateusz Masternak withdrew from the mandatory position.
Opetaia, who is widely regarded as the #1 fighter in the division, was signed by Eddie Hearn’s Matchroom Boxing in July – a deal that had been in the works before the IBF ordered Opetaia-Riakporhe.
Riakporhe last week, also, withdrew from the purse bids leaving the Australian without a fight after months of waiting.
Fans are sceptical of the reasons behind the pullout citing similarities to earlier in the year with Fabio Wardley and Frazer Clarke.
Eddie Hearn And Frank Smith On Riakporhe Pullout
Hearn accused Ben Shalom’s BOXXER and Riakporhe for wasting Opetai’s time by withdrawing on the day of the bids rather than beforehand – reminiscent of Wardley-Clarke.
“After Masternak pulled out, we went to the IBF and said can you let us just have a really quick defence”, Eddie Hearn told Boxing Social, “But BOXXER complained and basically objected to Opetaia to be allowed a quick defence because Riakporhe was mandatory, ‘he shouldn’t be allowed any exceptions, we got to go to Purse bids’.”
The Matchroom CEO also claimed, to Boxing News, that BOXXER were influential in the withdrawal due to Opetaia’s alignment with MR and a refusal to work with Hearn.
“That’s not for the benefit of your fighter, the benefit of your fighter is getting the best possible opportunities. He’s worked so hard to build himself into a position to win a world title and BOXXER/Ben Shalom doesn’t want him to fight on another platform.”
Ben Shaloms Clarifies Withdrawal, Claims Matchroom Are ‘Playing Games’
“Every fight that we try and make… there’s a conscious effort to try and stop it, try and block it,” Shalom told Boxing King Media
Shalom gave examples of Matchroom attempting to make Chris Eubank Jr vs Conor Benn for Sept 23 whilst Eubank-Smith 2 was being rescheduled.
Similarly, Dan Azeez was offered a world title shot against Dmitry Bivol, according to Hearn, when BOXXER were attempting to make a Buatsi-Azeez fight.
“We got offered to go to Australia and all we asked for is proof of funds and proof of the government and that never came.”
The BOXXER CEO claims that Riakporhe/BOXXER were willing to go to Australia and face Opetaia but requests made around the offer were not fulfilled.
“Even after it seemed like Jai had signed with Matchroom. We received an offer from his manager saying Matchroom aren’t involved, this is the number, we’ll come to the UK just offer us XYZ. We made the offer, we sent over the contract, and silence again.”
“We always felt like Richard can choose. He’ll fight for a world title this year, he’s #1 in the WBO, most of the titles are free to fight for and he’ll fight for a world title.”
Shalom insists Riakporhe will still receive a title opportunity this year, hinting that another shot was already being negotiated.
“It got to the point where we were being messed up, I don’t know if Matchroom has even signed Jai Opetaia or if it was purely to mess us around.”
“Ultimately we made the best decision for Richard and we hope that the games stop.”
Matchroom’s signing of Jai Opetaia was announced after the IBF ordered the Riakporhe fight and Ben Shalom belives that such as signing was only made to spite BOXXER.
NoSmokeSport.com reported last week that a deal between the Australian and Matchroom was in the works before a fight with Riakporhe was ordered and the original plans were centred around an Opetaia-Jordan Thompson fight.