Two years ago, two young men walked into the Mayweather gym side by side as they revelled in the boxing history that surrounded them. Inside those four walls, the greatest fighter of the last decade dedicated his blood, sweat and tears.
Both of those men are now professional boxers. Both of those men are “YouTubers”. Only one of those men will go on to have a long and successful boxing career.
KSI and Viddal Riley entered the Mayweather gym in Las Vegas, February 2018. Riley an amateur standout with the West Ham amateur boys club competing at cruiserweight locked horns with a top ten contender during a sparring session in the famous gym.
Andrew Tabiti stood across from Viddal as the young man without a professional fight to his name was about to showcase his talents against at that stage a fighter who was undefeated in fifteen fights coming off a unanimous points victory over Steve Cunningham, who Tyson Fury once said was the toughest opponent he had faced.
It was Jeff Mayweather, a former IBO world champion, who cornered the young man from Tottenham. Immediately recognising the talent Riley possessed Jeff wanted him to stay in Las Vegas and train with him full time. Torn between the bright lights of the Las Vegas strip and the arenas steeped in rich boxing history and competing at the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games.
The decision was made to turn to the paid ranks of boxing under the tutelage of legends.
Managed by Amer Abdallah, who also manages Badou Jack, was a pivotal figure in helping get Riley signed to a promotional deal with Mayweather Promotions. However, Viddal had to earn his contract.
“I did have to have a few fights to prove myself to show it was not all a YouTube channel and I could actually deliver in the ring. Once I’d had a few fights and a couple of knockouts, Leonard Ellerbe, the CEO of Mayweather Promotions, was like ‘it’s time, we got a contract here ready.'”
Signing a three-year deal in 2019, Viddal is now prepared to make his Mayweather Promotions debut with an undercard littered with talent from the Mayweather gym, including highly-rated Richardson Hitchins, Riley will face Muhammad Abdullah (4-1-1).
“Buzzing to get back in the ring. I haven’t been in the ring since May last year, I feel I’m a much better fighter than I was May last year. I’ve been learning so much more, working with Jeff Mayweather, working with my dad. Just really settling into a pro-style now.
“Holding my feet a bit more, working on my hand defences. The main thing Jeff has taught me is my hand defences. You can’t really teach reflexes but being part of the family of someone who has the greatest hand defence in history, it’s starting to rub off on me and I can feel it.
“Not a bad opponent for my fourth fight, he’s had a ton of MMA fights so he’s used to being in combat. But, I have no doubt in my mind that I either outbox him or knock him out!” Viddal told ProBoxing-Fans.com in Las Vegas last week.
It won’t be the first time the Londoner has fought in Las Vegas, the first occasion was on the undercard of Manny Pacquiao vs Adrian Broner where Riley stopped his opponent, Mitchell Spangler, inside thirty-three seconds.
“It’s crazy, [from] stepping on the scales, just being a part of the whole experience was amazing. There were only six people in the crowd but in my mind, there was 20,000. Just knowing that legendary fighters have walked that same path, and fighters that are great didn’t get that opportunity in their second fight so you really have to put it into context, be grateful, be thankful but it was a great experience, man.”
Viddal Riley is most definitely someone to keep an eye on going into the future, with the old guard of boxing starting to hang up their gloves with the likes of Tony Bellew, Carl Froch and Tommy Coyle recently retiring Viddal could certainly be the next big British boxing superstar!