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NOT even three months have passed since Richard Riakporhe illuminated his headline night on Sky Sports by stopping fellow Londoner Deion Jumah inside eight rounds at Wembley Arena.

But, at 32 years old, and following a lengthy period of inactivity at the height of the pandemic, Riakporhe has every reason to be in a hurry.

Before signing with Boxxer last year, the 6ft 5in light-heavyweight had not been seen since he stopped Jack Massey in December 2019. He shook off the ring rust over eight rounds against Krzysztof Twardowski last October before stopping Olanrewaju Durodola a month later.

It was March when Riakporhe did the business against Jumah and now, just 11 weeks later, he is back again in a bid to further bolster his credentials as an elite cruiserweight. Beating Fabio Turchi, however, is unlikely to tell us much more than we already know.

The Italian is a former European champion and has lost just once in 21 fights. That defeat came at the hands of Tommy McCarthy back in 2019 when the Belfast native won a split decision after 12 hard-fought rounds. It is worth noting at this point that McCarthy did not last four rounds with Riakporhe.

“He’s fought a few times since the McCarthy fight and he’s put on some good performances,” Riakporhe said. “He’s an opponent I respect, he’s dangerous and we’ve taken him very seriously.”

From the outside this looks like something of a showcase for Riakporhe, who is a heavy favourite with the bookmakers – and rightly so. He will hold significant height and reach advantages over Turchi, and showed against Jumah that he has little trouble finding a home for his right or left hand against a southpaw.

He is currently inside the cruiserweight top 10 and it feels like this should be one of the last fights before he goes in search of one of the names above him in the rankings. But it also still feels like a long jump to the likes of Lawrence Okolie and Mairis Breidis at the very top table of the division. Time will tell if Turchi is the right fight at the right time but at the very least he’s keeping busy.

“I have pure confidence in myself,” Riakporhe adds. “I was created differently and I’m really blessed genetically.”

He’s not wrong. Turchi is tough but expect Riakporhe to get the job done in the final quarter of the contest.

Elsewhere on the card, Chris Kongo continues his rebuild following his defeat at the hands of Michael McKinson in March 2021. That night in Gibraltar, the Bermondsey man was dropped en route to a 10-round points loss in their domestic clash which slammed the breaks on his hitherto serene progress.

He has boxed just once since – on the undercard of Riakporhe-Jumah so Kongo is another man Boxxer are clearly keen to keep busy. That night, which was one day shy of a year on from the McKinson loss, ‘2Slick’ cruised to an eight-round points win over Kelvin Dotel.

A far sterner test awaits this weekend as Kongo faces Sebastien Formella over 10 rounds. The German is well known to British boxing fans following his 2020 fight with Conor Benn, which he lost on points, and his 12 rounder with Shawn Porter three months previous – another that he lost on points.

What that shows is that Formella is not an easy man to stop and – if neither Benn or Porter could take him out – it would be a statement from Kongo if he could finish the job inside the distance. The Londoner, however, is not a noted puncher and four of his last five fights have gone the distance. The one that didn’t – a ninth round TKO of Luther Clay – remains the best victory on his record.

This one looks like another distance fight and the rangey skills of Kongo should ensure he wins it reasonably comfortably.

One person who will definitely win comfortably is Lauren Price, who makes her professional debut following her decision to turn over with Boxxer. Given her achievements as an amateur, which culminated in Olympic gold, Price was one of the hottest properties in the unpaid ranks and had a number of promoters circling.

Ben Shalom and Boxxer won the race and it is likely she will be moved very quickly towards the upper echelons of the middleweight division. There will be some adjustments needed but she looks pretty much ready made for professional boxing. She will win this one easily.

There is also an English title on the line during the card as Germaine Brown makes the first defence of the belt against Zak Chelli. Brown won the title by virtue of a points win over Charlie Schofield on the undercard of Kell Brook’s win against Amir Khan in Manchester in February and he has been given another outing by Boxxer here.

Chelli, meanwhile, is still just 24 and back into a groove after he followed his 2019 defeat to Kody Davies with a draw against Jack Cullen. Since then he has chalked up four wins on the spin and his last three have all come inside the distance.

There is no doubting the Fulham man can bang at this level and he appears to be the puncher in the fight against Brown who has just three inside-distance wins from 12. However should Brown manage to stay out of any real trouble he should win this on points.

There are also outings for unbeaten duo Viddal Riley and Joe Pigford who are both hoping to emerge as two of the more marketable members of the Boxxer stable. Cruiserweight Riley is currently 5-0 (2) while Pigford, the light-middleweight from Southampton, is 19-0 with all but one of those finishing early.

The Pig is looking to push on now and this will be his fourth fight in 12 months following two years out of the ring.

THE VERDICT: Sensible matchmaking for Riakporhe as he edges towards world level

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