Jack Massey feels like he has hit the jackpot – twice

CRUISERWEIGHT Jack Massey would have been happy just to have been given a date, a venue, and the name of an opponent, only last week he received all that and more. Last week, when sitting at home on his sofa, he received more than just details of his next fight. He received a pathway. A gift for his patience. A life-changing opportunity.

Indeed, when informed of an injury to Poland’s Michal Cieslak, Massey was offered the chance to not only fight Isaac Chamberlain on June 15 at Selhurst Park, but, should he win, return to Cheshire with the European and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles. Better still, should Massey do what he expects to do and defeats Chamberlain, he will have also manoeuvred himself into position to fight the winner of the night’s main event between Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe. In other words, having waited so long for something to happen, now, it seems, everything is about to happen for Jack Massey; now he has both a plan and an incentive.

“It’s massive,” Massey, 21-2 (12), told Boxing News. “It’s popped up at the right time; we’re fit and ready even though we’ve only had just over four weeks’ notice.

“I was hoping to be out at some point that month (June) but this is a great opportunity and a great fight for me. There are two titles on the line, the European and Commonwealth, and I’m going in against a good fighter on a good bill headlined by a cruiserweight world (WBO) title fight. I have to get the job done on June 15 and then I can look at the winner of the headline fight as well. It has worked out perfectly really.”

In terms of the timing being good, Massey is not wrong. After all, with just two fights in two years, and with his last fight, in January, lasting less than two minutes, Massey needed a big fight to motivate himself and he needed it soon. Otherwise, there was a real danger that the 31-year-old could start to disappear from the spotlight and become an easy man for domestic cruiserweights to avoid.

“It’s been really frustrating,” he said of his recent inactivity. “But we’ve just had to stay on it, stay composed, and keep working in the gym. I haven’t been coming out of the gym and messing about. You have to stay focused because these things do just sometimes come out of the blue. You’ve got to always be ready for them.”

Jack Massey

As for Isaac Chamberlain, the man Massey will face next month, there is clearly a lot of respect there, but also a belief that Massey can make his size, strength and power count on the night. In many ways, too, this fight against Chamberlain, 16-2 (8), is one for which Massey has been preparing for some time, albeit indirectly and without really knowing it. That is to say, the meeting of Massey and Chamberlain feels like a natural coming together; a fight that should have happened long before now.

“It’s funny how we haven’t met in the past,” said Massey. “We’ve both been around at a similar time, and have both fought a lot of the top domestic cruiserweights, but have so far not fought each other. He’s been around a long time, like myself, and it’s surprising we haven’t already met. He’s always been one on the radar, though, just because he’s always been in and around the big fights.

“He’s a good fighter. He’s a sharp boxer, a good boxer, but it’s not anything we can’t deal with. We’ll get him beat on the night. I just think I’m bigger, stronger, a better boxer, and I don’t think he’ll be able to deal with the power and size.”

Isaac Chamberlain. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

The dream, for Massey, is to get the result he is looking for against Chamberlain on June 15 and then, providing he is fit to do so, sit down and watch the main event between Billam-Smith, someone whom as an amateur he faced in an ABA final, and Riakporhe, someone who defeated Massey by 12-round decision in 2019. He sees his own fight, in fact, as something of a semi-final; or a dress rehearsal. He knows that a win, especially an impressive one, could be the key to unlocking a WBO cruiserweight title challenge in the very near future.

“The eyes of the boxing world will be on the cruiserweight division that night,” Massey said. “The people watching will see me and Chamberlain fight and then they’ll see Billam-Smith and Riakporhe fight. Hopefully after that they will want to see the winner of our fight face the winner of the headline fight. That would be a good fight to make next.

“It’s funny how things work out. Sometimes the world works in mysterious ways. Not only have I got a good fight, but it’s on the undercard of Billam-Smith vs. Riakporhe, which brings me that bit closer to fighting the winner of that fight as well.”

As far as Massey is concerned, the winner of Billam-Smith vs. Riakporhe is inconsequential. All he really needs is there to be a winner and for the winner to then show an interest in taking him on next.

That said, because he is now invested in the story, and because he now has the opportunity to get involved in it, Massey does of course have a great deal of interest in the fight itself.

“It’s a bit of a tough one to predict,” he said. “I didn’t think much of Billam-Smith’s last fight (against Mateusz Masternak). I spent a couple of weeks sparring Masternak for that fight and I wasn’t really that fit and I thought Billam-Smith has had a touch here; he’s got an easy fight. Then when the fight happened I thought he was losing until the body shot busted Masternak’s rib.

“Riakporhe is a funny one for me. He’s been a bit hit and miss. He sort of found himself and then lost himself a bit. He’s not really pushed on as much as I thought he would. He’s been very inactive at times, so it’s a tough one to call.

“Riakporhe can obviously punch, but I think Billam-Smith hit the nail on the head when he pointed out that Riakporhe has never actually knocked someone out cold. He always puts it on them and then the ref stops the fight. I can sort of agree with what Billam-Smith said there. He (Riakporhe) doesn’t have that example of him taking someone out with one shot. But there’s no doubt he hits hard and can punch. I just don’t think it’s the Deontay Wilder-type power a lot of people tell you it is.”

Massey continued: “I’d love to have the rematch with Riakporhe, but I’d also love to get the fight against Billam-Smith. I’ve always fancied a fight with him after fighting him in the ABA final. We’ve both come on leaps and bounds since then and I just think it would make a great fight. Styles make fights, and I think with the two of us there would be no holding and no wrestling. It would just be an all-round good fight.”

That can wait. First, Massey must deal with Chamberlain, whom many would argue represents Massey’s career-best scalp – if, that is, he is able to secure it. “I think I’m going to stop him,” said Massey, certain of it. “I’m going to catch him. He’ll feel the power from round one and he won’t like it. He will then be on the back foot until I finish the fight by stoppage.”

Suddenly, after years in the dark, Jack Massey can see not only the future but the light.

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