By Laurence Gill
Richard Riakporhe beat Olanrewaju Durodola by referee stoppage in the fifth round tonight at Wembley Arena. The performance was measured, but backed by impressive punch power. Riakporhe will look to mix it up at the top of a WBC Cruiserweight set that may soon include Canelo Álvarez.
Riakporhe Makes A Statement In The Cruiserweight Division | Sky Sports
Riakporhe came into this fight undefeated and in the process of climbing the WBC’s Cruiserweight rankings. A set of rankings that could soon have the additional allure of having boxing’s biggest star in Canelo Álvarez at the top of them. That news electrified fight week as the prospect of a shot at Canelo for the winner looked more and more possible, with Durodola’s most recent fight being against the man Canelo now looks to face: Ilunga Makabu, both men went into this fight with an added resolve they might otherwise not have.
Riakporhe came into the fight a heavy favourite and few expected anything other than a victory for him, despite Durodola’s impressive record and punch power. The first round was cagey, as both men looked to find their range and feel out their opponent’s power. Riakporhe looked maybe even a little tentative in the first round but then cracked Durodola with a stiff right hand that wobbled him just at the end of the round. Riakporhe again took a slow methodical pace in the second round but also stepped up the offence and continued to land clubbing blows.
Riakporhe Sends Durodola To The Canvas | Sky Sports
Riakporhe’s well known reputation for punch power is clearly justified. Riakporhe picked up the pace in the 3rd round, jabbing more and landing. Before connecting with another big right hand that caused Durodola to shell up; Riakporhe took some pot shots after that but Durodola recovered well. Durodola landed some hard shots at the end of the round in the clinch but Riakporhe handled them well. Riakporhe continued landing in the 4th but Durodola didn’t back down. Then at the start of the 5th round, Riakporhe landed a final big right hand that set him up to unload on Durodola and eventually wear him down to the point where the ref had to step in. Job done Richard Riakporhe.
Further down the card, Dan Azeez and Hosea Burton went to war for the British Light Heavyweight Championship. Azeez looked livelier early on, managing to land shots despite his much shorter stature. Tyson Fury and Joseph Parker watched on from ringside in support of Fury’s cousin Hosea Burton, but they could only cheer on as much as anyone else in the crowd. Azeez landed an inch perfect 1-2 in the 3rd round that was the first really significant damage of the fight. Burton looked genuinely wobbled, but was able to neutralise Azeez’s slightly overzealous forward movement. Azeez landed more big shots at the end of the third round, seeming to take control of the fight and continuing the offense in the 4th. Burton showed tremendous spirit to take the punishment he did and keep coming forward and scrapping, but Azeez was certainly the dominant fighter in rounds 3 and 4. Burton kept coming forward and landing shots, but also got hit a lot too. Throughout the first five rounds, Azeez was always just that little bit faster to the punch. Azeez finished the 6th round with an exquisite body shot that left Burton reeling, but the bell came before he could follow up. Burton came back strong in the 7fh and landed some serious shots, but Azeez fired back too and this offence gave Azeez the opening he needed. Enough big shots eventually came in to force the referee to call an end to the fight. Azeez becomes Britain’s new star at 175lbs.
Prospect Germaine Brown looked tense and nervous in his performance in the opening bout of the night, taking far too much punishment from an opponent of a much lower calibre and failing to get a stoppage. Brown loaded up his punches and seemed to be looking for a tear-up when using his boxing ability would have been a much more fruitful line of attack. Brown had some success to the body later on in the fight but it was too little too late to win anything other than a lopsided points victory.
Miss GB Natasha Jonas took a points victory in a slow-starting six round fight early on the card, which is perhaps understandable in the context of Jonas stepping into the card with less than a week’s notice after fellow Olympian Caroline Dubois fell ill before her professional debut. Jonas kept a relaxed pace throughout the rounds, before suddenly stepping up the pace at the start of the fifth. Jonas piled on the forward pressure throughout that round and seemed very close to a stoppage at points, but couldn’t quite get Masiokaite out of there. Jonas dominated the last two rounds, leaving no ambiguity about who took victory.
Young prospects and brothers Hassan and Adam Azim both took impressive victories on the card to huge adulation from the crowd; huge sections of which seemed to only be there to see them. Hassan went first and blasted out his opponent in 51 seconds, although its hard to act like his opponent, Craig Sumner, appeared to have any desire to actually compete in that fight. Adam took slightly longer, getting a finish very early in the second round. Adam looked equally impressive. The talk around backstage about these brothers is very very positive from some people who really know their boxing. These brothers aren’t just hype jobs; they are serious talent who could go all the way.
Mikael Lawal mauled his opponent Bruzzese, scoring two savage knockdowns in the second round that Bruzzese showed great heart to recover from. Lawal landed clubbing shots to the body throughout and dominated the clinch which was a significant part of this fight. This was a gritty slugging match from the first bell but one that Lawal was consistently winning, backing Bruzzese into a corner at one point in the fourth round and unloading on him, before landing more big shots at the end of that round. Lawal got the finish in the fifth after a final barrage of offense managed to keep Bruzzese down. Lawal looked strong and tough in that performance, but could have benefitted from picking his punches more effectively, and trying to avoid lengthly clinches. Bruzzese was a solid opponent who didn’t come to lose however, so Lawal’s performance can’t be too criticised.
Scottish Heavyweight and former Rugby player Nick Campbell had a slightly frustrating run of things but managed to get a 3rd round stoppage.