As always, JD NXTGEN cards give the opportunity for emerging talent to shine, and Saturday’s show in Peterborough is no different.
Nottingham’s Leigh Wood (20-1, KO10) challenges for the vacant Commonwealth Featherweight Title, a belt given up by the bill topper, Jordan Gill. He meets a man fighting outside of Africa for the first time in Ghanaian, Abraham Osei Bonsu (13-3-1, KO11).
Wood’s career has stalled somewhat since a career best win over Josh Wale in October 2015. His only defeat remains a February 2014 sixth round stoppage at the hands of Gavin McDonnell in a challenge for the British Title at Super Bantamweight. Since the Wale win, Wood has only fought four times. The calibre of the opposition has not been great either. The four opponents have a combined 38-182-4 current record, although Wood did pick up the Midlands Area Featherweight Title , with a second round stoppage win over Lee Glover in March 2016.
Bonsu is another African unknown quantity. He has been Ghanaian Champion at Super Featherweight, but also failed twice to win the same Title (1 split decision loss, 1 draw). He won the Title in December 2017, but shipped it in his first defence, a split decision loss to the then 19-0 Patrick Ayi. He also has a stoppage loss on his slate, a seventh round defeat in a challenge for the WBO Africa Title against Aphiwe Mboyiya in his only fight outside his home country, in South Africa in December 2015. Bonsu’s last fight was a second round stoppage win over the limited Jonathan Yartey.
This is a more than winnable fight for Wood, and I expect him to be able to smartly box his way to a wide points win.
Richard Riakporhe (8-0, KO7) aims to build on a breakout win over Sam Hyde at the back end of 2018. His WBA Intercontinental Cruiserweight Title is on the line, as the Londoner faces former British Title challenger, Tommy McCarthy (13-1, KO6) on the bill.
Riakporhe earned a coveted spot on the Oleksandr Usyk v Tony Bellew bill in Manchester in November last year, and grabbed the chance with both hands. His opponent, Sam Hyde was a warm favourite, and although Riakporhe was behind in the contest, he gradually caught up with Hyde, forcing the Cheshire man’s corner to throw the towel in during the eighth round, with his eye badly damaged.
Belfast native McCarthy will be keen to breathe new life into his career, which has stagnated recently. He came to prominence in May 2016, when he handed former Prizefighter winner and British Champion, John-Lewis Dickinson, a shock ten round points defeat, sending Dickinson into retirement.
This win elevated McCarthy to British Title challenger status, but he was dealt a first career defeat in Manchester in November 2016 by the then Champion, Matty Askin. McCarthy was down twice in the fourth, before losing out on the scorecards. Since then, he has only fought four times, against limited opposition, all in Belfast. His last outing came just this month. He ticked over by winning every round of his eight rounder against Czech import, Jiri Svacina, a man Riakporhe stopped in two rounds in October 2017.
29 year old Riakporhe looks like an emerging talent, and much depends on McCarthy’s ambition in this one. I think Riakporhe will come on strong down the stretch, and win via late stoppage.
Highly regarded American, Anthony Sims Junior (17-0, KO16) appears on the bill, against Mateo Damian Veron (28-21-3, KO8). The Indiana Super Middleweight is scheduled to take part in his first ten rounder.
Sims has only been the distance once, on debut, and has only boxed 32 rounds in 17 fights. His meeting with Veron shouldn’t pose too many problems. The Argentine visitor has boxed all over the world, and comes to Peterborough off the back of perhaps a career best win. 46 year old Lolenga Mock was fresh off a controversial points defeat to Avni Yildirim in a WBC Title eliminator in September last year, where most felt he was the winner. Veron met him in Denmark at the end of January this year, and pulled off the upset, winning by four points on all three cards.
Sims has youth on his side though, and although Veron is tough and will come to fight, I can see him fading, and a stoppage or corner retirement around the halfway mark is a distinct possibility.
Further prospects on the card include Qais Ahfaq (4-0, KO2), John Docherty (3-0, KO3), Kieran Conway (9-0, KO3) and Bradley Smith (8-0, KO3).