Weekend Reaction: What next for Riakporhe, Chamberlain, Gvozdyk, Martin and Matias?

FROM London to Las Vegas with Puerto Rico sandwiched in between it was a busy night for boxing this past Saturday (June 15).

World titles were on the line and reputations were at stake at cruiserweight, light heavyweight super-lightweight and lightweight. And while the headline winners; Chris Billam-Smith, Jack Massey, David Benavidez, Gervonta Davis and Liam Paro are rightly celebrated for their victories what does the future hold for those on the wrong end of the results?

Saturday night’s events were not the end of the line for the beaten Richard Riakporhe, Isaac Chamberlain, Oleksandr Gvozdyk, Frank Martin and Subriel Matias but the quintet will still have the sour taste of defeat inside them 48 hours removed from their fights.

Boxing News looks at what could be next for the five men on the losing side and we begin with “The Midnight Train” Richard Riakporhe. Cool and confident in the run-up to his WBO cruiserweight world title challenge against Chris Billam-Smith the night proved to be something of a disaster for Riakporhe.

Riakporhe (left) trying to put a dent in champion Chris Billam-Smith (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

The 34-year-old was on home turf at Crystal Palace’s Selhurst Park and walked to the ring in a Palace colored robe with fans on his side and the bookies who saw him as an odds-on favorite to take the title. The champion had other ideas and despite being nicknamed ‘The Gentleman’ he was dressed in villainous black and looked like a man who would not be beaten from beginning to end.

Billam-Smith was out for revenge having lost to Riakporhe in 2019 which is the only defeat on his record. The Bournemouth and trainer Shane McGuigan had a gameplan which was too clever for a one-dimensional Riakporhe to do anything about. Out-boxed, suffocated and out-thought the knockout power of Riakporhe could not be truly executed with Billam-Smith absorbing any hurtful shots that did connect.

The defeat was a sobering one for Riakporhe who must go back to the drawing board with trainer Angel Fernandez who in between rounds was pleading with his man to follow instructions. Having signed a contract extension with Boxxer last spring and been one of their early signings there is still a future for Riakporhe but who could he fight next? His world ranking with the WBO will be affected having lost as their mandatory challenger but there are enough opportunities for him in a division where fights aren’t hard to find.

Former Billam-Smith opponent Mateusz Masternak could be a worthwhile exercise for Riakporhe whose firepower would likely be too much for the Polish veteran. Former world champion Mairis Briedis is an attractive option but would not come cheap. Cuban entertainer Yuniel Dorticos would be one half of a fan friendly fight if he were to say yes as would Callum Johnson who is going about his business quietly having returned to the sport.

If Riakporhe has struggled with the weight and can no longer do the 200lbs limit then a move to Bridgerweight may be on the cards before a logical jump to heavyweight. The much maligned division recently welcomed Lawrence Okolie to their ranks who quickly became WBC champion with his Polish demolition job on Lukasz Rozanski. Riakporhe and Okolie are not just rivals but two men who don’t like the sight of one another and nearly came to blows in February 2023 at the London premiere of Creed III. A professional fight between the two may look good on paper but may be a tough sell to Boxxer’s broadcast partner Sky Sports.

Chamberlain (L) in action against Massey (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)

Another of Selhurst Park’s beaten fighters were Isaac Chamberlain who may be another cruiserweight alternative for Riakporhe having lost to Jack Massey during their European and Commonwealth cruiserweight contest.

Chamberlain had tried to get under the skin of Massey all week while claiming he was just being himself. Come fight night Chamberlain tried to walk down the man from Marple but played right into his hands and was consistently caught at range and up close. Chamberlain tried to force the action and in the second half of the fight did appear to hurt Massey on occasion but Massey was the better man overall and clearly deserved his win.

The defeat is Chamberlain’s third having lost to Lawrence Okolie and Chris Billam-Smith previously. There is no shame in losing to fighters of those and Massey’s calibre but the Brixton fighter would have been heading in the direction of a world title shot had he won on Saturday night. The natural fight for him now would be to face Viddal Riley who has made enough noise recently about facing Chamberlain and may now get his chance. Ellis Zorro – who has lost two on the bounce to quality opposition in Jai Opetaia and Cheavon Clarke – should also be considered.

Across the pond Frank Martin’s first move to elite level ended painfully with a crushing eighth round knockout defeat to Gervonta “Tank” Davis who retained his WBA lightweight title in the process.

The skillful and athletic Martin made a promising start in the first three rounds but began to find himself on the ropes too often much to the delight of Davis who then unloaded his world-class power punches. At 29 and with just one loss on his record Martin can unquestionably come again but the leading men at 135lbs are scattered across various promotional companies meaning Martin may have to continue to play second fiddle. However, there are choices closer to home in the Premier Boxing Champion stable including Chris Colbert, Javier Fortuna or even the polarizing Rolando Romero who lost to “Tank” two years ago.

Before Martin and Davis stepped into the ring for their main event at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas David Benavidez and Oleksandr Gvozdyk were on hand to provide a worthy looking chief support contest at light heavyweight.

This was the first fight for Benavidez at 175lbs having postponed his chase of undisputed super-middleweight champion Canelo Alvarez. And despite carrying various injuries into the ring on Saturday he handled the dangerous threat of his Ukrainian opponent to win a unanimous decision and take with him the WBC interim strap.

What now for Gvozdyk (R) after his second defeat? (Photo by Steve Marcus/Getty Images)

Despite being 37 years old Gvozdyk did not look like cannon fodder for Benavidez on Saturday night. The former WBC light heavyweight champion was tagged with multiple power shots but soaked them up and had success of his own and towards the end looked the fresher of the two fighters but ultimately never looked like winning.

There, however, appears to be plenty of fight left in “The Nail” who now has two defeats on his record albeit to Benavidez and the number one light-heavyweight Artur Beterbiev. Having ended this three-year and four month retirement from the sport Gvozdyk won three consecutive fights against Josue Obando, Ricards Bolotniks and Isaac Rodrigues, respectively, before stepping up to face Benavidez.

Britain’s Callum Smith – who himself lost to Beterbiev in January – against Gvozdyk is an intriguing prospect if both men were to carry on in the sport. Gvozdyk will want to continue fighting at the highest level possible which could bring Smith, Anthony Yarde and Marcus Browne to the table. Gvozdyk’s ultimate goal was to challenge the winner of Beterbiev against Dmitry Bivol but Saturday was a case of one step back however the former Olympic medallist is capable of moving forward once again.

Matias lost his world title in front of home fans to Liam Paro (Photo by Melina Pizano/Matchroom.)

Meanwhile in Puerto Rico the reputation of Subriel Matias took a thump when Australia’s unbeaten Liam Paro walked into the lion’s den and walked out as IBF super-lightweight champion. A successful first six rounds for Paro had Matias up against it and the home favorite could do little to shift the steely Aussie who was not going to be denied.

Signed to Matchroom there aren’t a shortage of options for Matias. The likelihood is we see him return on one of Eddie Hearn’s American shows later in the year. Stable-mate Regis Prograis could be an attractive proposition if the beaten champion wants to go back in with another classy operator or perhaps we see the 32-year-old face an opponent like Sergey Lipinets who could be made for him. Ireland’s Sean McComb – who was desperately unlucky to lose to Arnold Barboza in April – may have the wrong style for Matias but the Puerto Rican would surely fancy his chances of winning. Either way his reputation as one of boxing’s most dangerous men is currently in flames and the fire needs to be put out promptly.

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