By: Oliver McManus
Thursday night sees cruiserweight contender Jack Massey vie for the vacant British title against Richard Riakporhe. The Chapel-en-le-frith resident is a local legend round Derbyshire and is keen to bring the belt back home. Boxing Insider caught up with him on fight week for a short and snappy interview. Massey began by explaining how the title shot is a perfect end to a somewhat stuttering year; blighted by missed opportunities.
<em> “Yeah it’s been a frustrating year, to be honest, but I feel as though this (the British title) has been a long time coming. Obviously I was supposed to compete in Ultimate Boxxer at the beginning of the year but pulled out of that to face Okolie (scheduled for July) and I ended up injuring my bicep. I’ve been saying for a while now that I was ready for the British title so I’m looking forward to getting in the ring on Thursday.” </em>
Having turned professional in 2013, Massey has patiently developed on the Derbyshire small hall scene and, more recently, with the support of Frank Warren. Initially he had hoped to fight for the British on December 22nd last year; the slight delay could perhaps be a blessing in disguise, as Massey elaborated.
<em> “I was in the gym for six weeks for Okolie, I’ve been in the gym for 10 weeks for this fight so I’m definitely prepared. I’ve never trained for a 12 round fight before but now I’ve sort of had one and a half camps to gear up for this one. Yes it might be six, twelve months later than I was expecting but, at the same time, I’m that many months hungrier and I’m that little bit more prepared, motivated and mature.” </em><em> “It’s a good time for me to be fighting for the British title” </em>, he continued, <em> “it’s the right time, as well. I’ve obviously been professional for six and a bit years and I’ve had a good mix of challenges. It’s been about building momentum, I’ve been learning on the job but I’ve also been keeping the confidence up and trying to stay busy.” </em>
The 26 year old was due to contest the title in July against Lawrence Okolie but a nasty bicep injury curtailed that opportunity; Massey outlined what occurred.
<em> “It happened in sparring with Hughie (Fury) and I went to throw a right hook but he’d stuck his elbow slightly and I hit it. It went straight through to the bicep and I knew straightaway it wasn’t good. It was nasty and, obviously, I was really frustrated at the time but I couldn’t do anything about it and there was no point in getting flustered about it.” </em>
The title remains the same but a new opponent awaits. Richard Riakporhe has been on a mean streak since linking up with Matchroom Boxing and is a heavy betting favourite. Predictably the odds are skewed to the home fighter but Massey insisted they were more alike than many expect:
<em> “We’re fairly similar in height so I don’t think that will be too much of an issue. I’ve had plenty of rounds with Shakan Pitters to try and replicate those long limbs and his speed but heavyweights for their power, too. I’ve been kept on my toes and I am feeling really up for it. I think I’ve prepared for everything possible: there’s been plenty of variety in camp.” </em>
Not only is there the British title on offer, and all the opportunities thereafter, but a place in the history books of Derbyshire boxing. Who knows, they might even let him turn on the Christmas lights this time next year…
<em> “There’s not been many British champions from Derbyshire (Jack Bodell reigned the heavyweight division for one fight in 1969) so that’ll be a great feeling. I had a little open workout (in Chapel-en-le-frith) last week for those that can’t get down to London and the support was incredible. They’ve always been really generous with their support – right from when I was fighting on small shows in Buxton – and it’ll be to go back home as Champion in time for Christmas.” </em>