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Richard Riakporhe vs Lawrence Okolie in British unification at Selhurst Park would be ‘incredible’, says Ben Shalom | boxingnews

BOXXER CEO Ben Shalom has teased the possibility of Richard Riakporhe facing Lawrence Okolie in an all-British cruiserweight unification showdown, suggesting it is a fight the current WBO champion would welcome.

Riakporhe (14-0, 10 KOs) takes on Italy’s Fabio Turchi at Wembley Arena this Saturday knowing victory will book him a long-awaited world title opportunity at the end of the year.

Beyond that, Okolie looms as a target at the top of the division after retaining his title in February with a unanimous decision victory over Michał Cieślak. It marked the 29-year-old’s second defense since stopping Krzysztof Głowacki to clinch the vacant belt in March 2021.

“I think it’s a fight Lawrence would like, I think he wants the big domestic fights, he knows that’s what sells in the UK and it’s amazing to have two guys at the top of the division both from Britain, both from London, that is the most exciting thing,” Shalom told Sky Sports.

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Riakporhe says he has a 100 per cent ‘hurt record’ and doesn’t have to hit Turchi clean to put him in trouble

“Both fighters know that is their fight, in the same way Joshua Buatsi probably looks at Anthony Yarde thinking ‘one day that’s my fight’. I think both of these guys are looking at each other as well and want to make sure it’s box office by the time it comes around.

“They want to make sure perhaps that Richard has his world title and we could be looking at a British unification in the cruiserweight division which would be incredible.

“That’s the journey, that’s the focus. But to see where Richard has come in 10 months having been inactive 18 months prior is incredible.”

Riakporhe, a long-term Crystal Palace fan, holds ambitions of staging a world title clash in Selhurst Park.

Shalom is confident of making that happen.

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Johnny Nelson joins Riakporhe in the ring to talk about his explosive punch power and his forthcoming World Title Eliminator against Turchi

“I think Crystal Palace fans and the club in general have just massively taken to Richard Riakporhe. I think they see him as a figurehead now and he really is a south London man, he buys into everything the club represents and they’ve just come out in such support for him, I think we’ll see Saturday night.

“That’s his dream, I think we want to make that happen 100 per cent.

“Riakporhe vs Okolie at Selhurst Park one day would be incredible. Richard just needs to keep focused on getting better in the ring, he’s got so much going for him outside the ring, if he keeps doing it he’s going to do the business and the Crystal Palace fans are a massive part of what he does now and hopefully, Selhurst Park won’t be too far away.”

The 32-year-old’s ascent since his Sky Sports debut in October has prompted interest from WBC champion Ilunga Makabu and WBA champion Arsen Goulamirian in a world title meet with the Londoner.

IBF holder Mairis Briedis has meanwhile also emerged as a potential opponent should Riakporhe come through his Turchi test unscathed.

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Cruiserweight boxer and Crystal Palace fan Riakporhe says he is keen to fight at the home of his football team, Selhurst Park

“I think Richard won’t duck any fight, I know the Goulamirian fight is easy to make, Goulamirian likes that fight,” said Shalom. “I know the Briedis fight is going to be there because of the IBF ranking on the back of this if he can win, Makabu is the beautiful WBC belt and Richard really wants that one.

“He’s going to have options, I think it’s going to be down to coming through Saturday and then we’ll start to pursue that.
I don’t think it’s going to be difficult to make.

“The only thing is I don’t think many cruiserweights will want to get in a ring with Richard just because you could be on top for five or six rounds but if you get caught once it’s lights out.

“That’s what is exciting about Richard, and he’s improving as a boxer as well. The difficult thing will be what cruiserweight wants to get in the ring with Richard.”

Watch Richard Riakporhe take on Fabio Turchi on Sky Sports Action on Saturday from 7pm, with Olympic gold medalist Lauren Price set to make her professional debut while Germaine Brown, Chris Kongo and Viddal Riley are also in action.

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