RICHARD RIAKPORHE rounded off a successful year by claiming the vacant British cruiserweight title on Thursday evening (December 19). His unanimous points victory over the previously undefeated Jack Massey marked his fourth impressive scalp in a row, following on from wins against Sam Hyde, Tommy McCarthy and Chris Billam-Smith. But it was far from an easy night’s work for the 6ft 5in Londoner.

In what was a largely scrappy and messy affair, Riakporhe seemed fortunate not to have a point deducted for holding. He looked like the heavier hitter of the two, yet Massey’s work rate meant that the Derbyshire man was well in the fight.

The result was up in the air after 12 rounds, but it was Riakporhe who received the verdict by marks of 117-111 and 115-113 twice. His cause was aided by the scoring of a disputed knockdown in the 10th.

Despite the somewhat contentious nature of his triumph, Riakporhe was delighted to secure the Lonsdale Belt in his 11th bout, maintaining his unbeaten record in the process.

“It’s a great feeling. Respect to Jack Massey. I had to grind in there,” the new title-holder said. “I’m the champion. Bring it home, guys. Let’s go, baby!

“He’s tough. I gave him some powerful shots that would’ve put a lot of cruiserweights away.”

One interested ringside observer was Billam-Smith. The Bournemouth cruiser dropped a split decision to Riakporhe in July, but bounced back by earning Commonwealth honours four months later. A double-title sequel between the pair could well be on the cards in 2020. For his part, Billam-Smith has stated that he would “love the rematch.”

Further down the line, a target of Riakporhe’s is fellow London 200-pounder Lawrence Okolie, who has garnered British, Commonwealth and European belts since turning professional in March 2017.

“The public want to see someone knock out Okolie and I’m the perfect man for the job,” Riakporhe stated. “The rest of the cruiserweights aren’t strong enough, they aren’t big enough, and they can’t punch.

“Let’s just say, if that fight got made, I’m turning off my phone and I’m going to live in the gym. My bed, my pillow, in the gym. I believe, with me giving everything I’ve got, it’d be enough to get that win.”