WHEN the opportunity came up, while Deion Jumah hadn’t been expecting it, he knew he had to take it. Fighting Richard Riakporhe at Wembley Arena, televised on Sky Sports this Saturday (March 26) was everything he’d been waiting for. After a career spent battling through injuries, vying for attention in the industry, he could finally step out of the shadows. And, he promises, he is ready for this.

He’d been preparing for another opponent. “The switch over was pretty easy. We found out his guy couldn’t fight for whatever reason, my guy couldn’t fight for whatever reason so it was written. It was meant to be,” Jumah tells Boxing News. “We’re grateful. We’re over the moon. We’re ready. When you’ve been a cruiserweight at the top of the British rankings as long as I have, you’re always training keeping certain fighters in mind. So it’s not so much the case of ‘I wasn’t training for Richard and now it’s been jumped on me in two weeks, so I’m not ready.’ I’ve always got these fighters in mind, I’ve always got Richard in mind, I’ve always got [Lawrence] Okolie in mind, I’ve always got Chris Billam-Smith in mind while I’m doing my training.”

“This is nothing short of what I deserve. I’ve been in this game for a long time,” he adds. “The fire has been burning for a long time. It’s now time to get exactly what I deserve.”

Riakporhe is someone Jumah knows well. “I’ve sparred Richard a number of times. It was a long time ago. So what he’s doing now could be different to what he was doing then. But from what I’ve seen in his fights I don’t see much improvement. I’ve watched his fights and I don’t see much improvement from what I was seeing three or four years ago,” he notes.

Jumah has been active this year too. He was obliged to take a four rounder, outpointing Willbeforce Shihepo on February 26, to get in some competitive rounds before this contest. It was a risk, Deion needed to get through it unscathed. He was under pressure. “I hated having to fight that fight. We were mid camp,” he said. “Not getting injured, not getting cut, it’s a lot to think about. It got done. We got the win. We got safely in and out and here we are.”

Injuries have been a major problem for the talented two time ABA amateur champion as well. But he didn’t let all those setbacks derail him. “It hasn’t been done on my own. Other than the passion I have for this sport, I have some very good people on board, from my coach Gary Logan to my sponsors,” Jumah said. “They have kept me going. When I had my eye injury we had an amazing solicitor who helped me get my licence back.

“I’ve been very fortunate to still be in this game.”

The winner will belong in the world cruiserweight top 10. For Jumah, finally, it is all or nothing. “These situations make me tougher as a warrior and Richard is going to feel it on the March 26,” he said. “It’s game-changing. Not long ago I was contemplating leaving the sport, thought it might not be worth it to pursue, now here I am at Wembley, when I win this fight there could be world titles on the line. Massive, game-changing.

“It is life changing.”

For Deion Jumah on Saturday, everything depends on winning.