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Viddal Riley Beats Mikael Lawal, Exchanges Barbs with Isaac Chamberlain


There were few fireworks, but Viddal Riley quietly cemented his position as one of Britain’s top cruiserweights by soundly outpointing Mikael Lawal at the O2 Arena on Sunday night.

Before the fight, the big-punching Lawal promised to redeem himself following a tame defeat to Isaac Chamberlain last year, while Riley insisted that he had chosen to fight the dangerous Lawal and that he would make a statement by beating him in better fashion than Chamberlain had managed.

As it was, neither man accomplished what they set out to do but Riley can still be satisfied with his night’s work.

Rather than engaging with Lawal, the 26 year old smartly boxed his way to a straightforward ten round decision to successfully retain his English cruiserweight title. It wasn’t a thriller but looking at the big picture, Riley, 11-0 (6 KO’s), was happy, having taken another big step forward at a relatively early stage in his professional career.

“I feel good, you know. I won the English title in a shutout [against Nathan Quarless] and I’ve defended the English title with a shutout against a former British champion so it shows I’ve got way more in me,” he said after the fight.

“Lawal’s very heavy-handed. He hit me with a good right hand to the body and it kept me honest. I realized I couldn’t stand still, I have to keep picking and poking. There’s times you want to attack more but you’ve got to stay disciplined and that’s what we’ve been working on in camp. Staying disciplined, sticking to the game plan. You’re not going to knock everyone out but you can win on a shutout.”

If the fight itself was devoid of two way action, Riley found himself involved in a much more heated exchange outside of the ring. For months, he and British champion Chamberlain have been using the internet to exchange call-outs and insults. Suddenly, they found themselves face to face.

Last October, Chamberlain, 16-2 (8 KO’s), relieved Lawal of his British title in similarly one-sided fashion but the 30 year old wasn’t shy about letting Riley know that he was less than impressed with his efforts.

“If you think you can box like that against me, you’ve got another think coming. I’m not gonna lie,” Chamberlain said. “You didn’t perform. What kind of performance was that? It was dead.

“Your own coach was telling you to be brave because you’re not on it in that ring. You’re out here running scared.

“We can do it whenever. You’ve been calling me out since October, now I’m here.”

Riley was quick to fire back, insinuating that Chamberlain’s team had to treat him with kid gloves and declaring that outboxing Lawal was just another day at the office for him.

“Listen, you beat that same guy and started shedding tears. Do you see any tears on my face?” he said.

A fight between the two will have to wait. The dangerous Chev Clarke, 8-0 (6 KO’s), is the mandatory challenger for Chamberlain’s British title and the 33 year old’s combination of explosive power and infighting ability give him a serious chance of derailing a potential fight between Chamberlain and Riley.

Clarke was also in attendance at the O2 and, feeling legitimately slighted by being negotiated around, tried to insert himself into the conversation. The cameras quickly cut away before he could have his say but Clarke’s position is solid. 

Promotional and broadcast politics will inevitably slow matters down but Chamberlain, Riley and Clarke seem certain to be in each other’s company a lot over the next 18 months. Whoever emerges from the triangle should be well placed to follow the likes of former world champion, Lawrence Okolie, current WBO cruiserweight champion, Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe into world class. 

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