Riakporhe Nears World Title Shot, Takes Highest Spot With IBF


Richard Riakporhe is now the highest rated world cruiserweight contender with the IBF.

His eye-catching eliminator win over Fabio Turchi on Saturday took him from number 12 to 2 with the governing body.

The current champion Mairis Briedis will make the second defence of his title against Australia’s Jai Opetaia on July 2 in the challenger’s back yard.

Briedis promoter Sauerland congratulated Riakporhe on a job well done after his win at the weekend and stated they would be open to their champion taking on the British challenger.

Riakporhe has become a potent force since joining Ben Shalom and BOXXER. Four fights and four wins on Sky Sports, the last three showcases of the 32-year-old’s power, now have him on the cusp of his first world title shot.

“We’re taking over,” he said post-fight on Saturday.

“All of these champions are running scared. I’m coming for all the smoke.”

The plot may yet thicken, however. While Sauerland tweeted their interest in Briedis-Riakporhe it may yet be forgotten about should WBO champion Lawrence Okolie and his promoter Eddie Hearn do a deal for their once rumoured unification fight.

Should Riakporhe be looking for a worthy opponent while he waits on a shot at the title then a final eliminator could be made between himself and number three contender Chris Billam-Smith. The pair met in 2019 with Riakporhe getting the nod over 10 rounds via split decision (95-94, 93-96, 97-92).

In the three years since Billam-Smith has gone from strength to strength with six wins on the spin. Those included back-to-back victories over Tommy McCarthy (another Riakporhe opponent) which resulted in the Bournemouth boxer winning and defending the European Cruiserweight title.

In other IBF ratings news British based Congolese heavyweight Martin Bakole has jumped from the 10 position to 5 after the one-sided beating he inflicted on Tony Yoka a month ago.