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by Sam Beresford

This Thursday sees the return of Matchroom Boxing’s JD NXTGEN at London’s historic York Hall. These shows give an opportunity for up and coming stars to headline live on Sky Sports instead of the usual float on pay-per-views or fight nights.

Headlining the card will be an intriguing bout between two undefeated fighters, Richard Riakporhe (10-0 8KO) and Jack Massey (16-0 8KO) as they look to propel themselves to the top of the domestic scene.

They will be fighting for the Vacant British cruiserweight title which was vacated by Lawrence Okolie as he looks for a world title shot in 2020. Riakporhe undoubtedly has a more impressive resume despite six fewer fights and is coming off a split-decision win against Chris Billiam-Smith.

The Londoner is currently ranked fifth by the WBA, with a win giving him the chance to continue this upward trajectory. Massey, on the other hand, is coming off an arm injury that kept him out of a fight with the aforementioned Okolie and will be a clear underdog on Thursday night. Although it will not be an easy task, and a win over the highly thought of Riakporhe could put him even more into the spotlight, leading to some big domestic and European fights in 2020.

Another announced fight on the card so far is Luther Clay (12-1 5KO) and Freddy Kiwitt (17-2 10KO) who will compete for the WBO Global welterweight Championship. This title has only been around for just over a year, adding another step for challengers before reaching the world level.

The Durban born Clay is coming off a convincing decision win in Florence against the then-unbeaten Dario Morello. Clay has previously declared his intention to fight Conor Benn and is currently on a seven-fight win streak. German Kiwitt’s most impressive win comes in the form of Paddy Gallagher, who he defeated at York Hall, to win the WBO European title and has since added the African title to his collection.

Kieron Conway (13-1 3KO) will continue his quest for the British super-welterweight against Irishman Craig O’Brien (11-1 1KO). The Northamptonshire based fighter drew to Ted Cheeseman earlier this year and feels strongly that he deserves another shot at the title. Meanwhile, O’Brien will provide a tough customer having only lost to Anthony Fowler and is a former sparring partner of world title challenger Spike O’Sullivan.

Also on the card is the popular Shannon Courtney (4-0 1KO) however, as is the case with many Matchroom cards, her opponent has not yet been announced. This will be ‘The Baby Face Assassin’s’ fifth fight of 2019. Eddie Hearn continues to put his faith in the former Finchley amateur, allowing her to box on the undercard of some large shows. No doubt this will be another learning curve for Courtney against another limited opponent as she learns her trade.

Talented light-heavyweight challenger Craig Richards (15-1 8KO) will also be on the bill, most likely in the co-main event slot. Having not fought since June, this show gives ‘The Spider’ a chance at a top-up fight going into 2020. Most notably Richards defeated Jake Ball on the Cheeseman vs Garcia undercard at the O2 Arena, proving he can compete at the top level domestically. In his last fight, he comfortably won his British light-heavyweight Title final eliminator on points against Andre Sterling. Richards has been ordered to fight Shakkan Pitters for the vacant British Title with Mick Hennessey winning the purse bids to stage this on Channel 5 in the new year.

These cards give fans not only the chance to see some young talent but also giving them their midweek fix of boxing action. The card kicks off on Sky Sports Action at 7pm and is sure to be an entertaining night.

Photos - Matchroom Boxing

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