Richard Riakporhe Explains Jai Opetaia Fight Fallout, "Politics, Politics, Politics"

“A lot of things fall through because of people’s egos”, Richard Riakporhe explains pull-out from Jai Opetaia fight

  • Richard Riakporhe Withdrew From His Mandatory Position To Jai Opetaia
  • The Brit Pulled Out Of Bids On The Day – A Move Which Was Heavily Criticised
  • Riakporhe Reveals That Another World Title Shot Was Agreed For Him But Fell Through

Australia’s Jai Opetaia decisioned the #1 Cruiserweight Mairis Briedis to win the IBF and Ring Magazine Cruiserweight titles in their fight of the year contender last July.

Opetaia sustained a jaw injury in the bout and had promotional issues to deal with, thereby sidelining his first defence.

The IBF finally ordered him to face his Polish mandatory challenger Mateusz Masternak. Masternak withdrew from the fight on the day of purse bids. understands that promoter BOXXER paid Masternak to give up his IBF #1 spot in return for a crack at WBO champion Chris Billam-Smith – which he will get on December 10 in Bournemouth.

They did this so Richard Riakporhe would be mandatory in the hope of bringing another belt back to their stable, setting up a unification fight with Chris Billam-Smith

The IBF then ordered negotiations between Opetaia and Britain’s Riakporhe.

In the middle of August, fight fans saw a statement from Riakporhe emulating Masternak’s. He had too pulled out on the day of bids.

The move was heavily criticised on social media with fans likening it to the Fabio Wardley-Frazer Clarke fiasco in May.

Richard Riakporhe Explains Jai Opetaia Pullout

Riakporhe has now spoken out about the Opetaia withdrawal to October Red Boxing.

“The fight got ordered, everybody was excited. Somebody that was a Southpaw, explosive, aggressive and somebody that has a track record of knocking out Southpaws as well, somebody that can punch”, Riakporhe explained to October Red, “It was a perfect clash, I was up for it.”

Opetaia’s ordered clash was highly anticipated with many regarding it as the best fight in the division.

“Then going on social media I saw Matchroom post they signed him and I just knew ‘I don’t think this is gonna happen now’.”

Matchroom began negotiations with Opetaia before Riakporhe was even made mandatory so the signing shouldn’t have come to much surprise – except it seemed like Riakporhe’s side had little idea it was going to happen.

“I just started getting calls, group chats, bang, urgent call. And then things fell through.”

“Before that, we were trying to negotiate the fight and apparently the deal was good that they offered him. We were ready to do whatever, go to Australia. But politics, politics, politics.”

“Goulamirian – he was up for fighting as well. We finally agreed a deal to fight him. So scrapped the IBF route and went for Goulamirian, we had the artwork and everything ready.”

Riakporhe’s fight with Goulamirian also fell through due to the French champion’s promotional issues, read more about that here: Cruiserweight Champ Arsen Goulamirian In The Midst Of Legal Dispute With Promoter Yohan Zaoui

“A lot of things fall through because of people’s egos. Different promoters battling back and forth, fighting with each other, wanting to have more power.”

“They want the shows to be on their broadcast. There are other fights that are going on that people don’t even realise.”

“When they find out something has fell through, the first thing they want to do is just point at the fighters, it’s so much more complicated than that.”

By Darshan Desai