Ben Shalom on new signings, reserving the Bournemouth stadium for Chris Billam-Smith in 2024 and Richard Riakporhe world title fight incoming

Boxxer promoter Ben Shalom is staying tight-lipped about whether there will be further additions to his roster.

Shalom, who works with Sky Sports, has upcoming dates including Chris Eubank Jr’s rematch with Liam Smith and the all-London light-heavyweight clash between Joshua Buatsi and Dan Azeez.

Shalom made significant back-to-back signings earlier in the year after snapping up then-WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie and Buatsi, and he has young stars coming through, like Ben Whittaker, Adam Azim and Caroline Dubois.

“You’d have to be very, very special now,” Shalom said, when asked if Boxxer was looking to expand their roster. “I think, when I look at the stable and when I look at the weight divisions that we have, when I look at the prospects coming through, the Caroline Dubois, the Ben Whittakers, the Adam Azims, Lauren Prices, Karriss Artingstalls… who, we hope to get back soon, it’s a special, talented group, and I think you’d have to be pretty special to come into that at the moment.” 

As well as Okolie, Shalom has plenty of interest at cruiserweight, with Chris Billam-Smith and Richard Riakporhe. Billam-Smith dethroned Okolie, and Riakporhe holds a win over Billam-Smith.

Shalom is hoping Billam-Smith fights again before the end of the year, defending his WBO title, and it could be back in Bournemouth, although it won’t be at the Vitality Stadium.

“Chris [Billam-Smith] actually had a little injury, a little cut after the first fight, and so, we’d have liked to turn that around immediately,” Shalom said. “I don’t think he can fight until November-December so we’ll pick up with the McGuigans I’m sure, this week, and see where he’s up to. It could be in Bournemouth, I know the stadium we’ve already booked for next year, and that will be what his call is. But he’ll have to come through his next fight. Obviously Lawrence [Okolie] has activated the rematch clause, that’s something we’ll have to talk to Chris about when he’s ready to fight again, but yeah, he’s not ready until November-December. I think he’s been enjoying being world champion. What a special night and moment this is for him. Lawrence [Okolie] has gone back to the drawing board, really. He knows his last three performances were not good. He knows he has to change. I think it’s almost like the shackles are off, you know? I think he was so, perhaps, concerned about losing, that maybe that affected his style for a long time, and he’ll be working away on that. Richard Riakporhe, news to announce in the next week or so. Really excited about that, he’ll fight for a world title. And you know, it’s a really good time for the cruiserweight division.”

On the same October 21 London bill as Azeez-Buatsi. Shalom has another cruiserweight attraction when Isaac Chamberlain meets Mikael Lawal. The winner will be on the peripheries of a world title shot.

“For me, the fights that we’ve always done the best and the fights that fans want to see are the best of the best, in Britain, going up against each other,” Shalom added. “And if Isaac Chamberlain and Mikael Lawal can get themselves in the mix, there’s some huge fights.” 

Still, Shalom will not guarantee that no more fighters will come in through the door. 

“Look, we don’t want to talk too soon,” Shalom said. “Every time we say we want to make this fight, or do this fight, people might try and get in the way of something, things like that. So I’m going to learn to be quiet, but we should have something.”