From YouTuber boxing to Mike Tyson’s undercard

For a youngster approaching just their fifth fight, Viddal Riley’s scarcely-believable journey has already taken in the mayhem of YouTuber boxing, a Manny Pacquiao undercard, the Mayweathers and is set to continue alongside Mike Tyson’s comeback.
It quickly becomes clear that Riley, a 23-year-old cruiserweight from London with a 4-0 record, knows exactly how to maximise the eyeballs on him. He speaks of his “brand” and of his “following” and it is clear that Riley is a unique commodity.
His breakthrough came as the trainer for KSI, who beat fellow YouTube influencer Logan Paul last year in a fight that gripped the boxing world, whether through intrigue or disapproval. Riley learned the importance of building himself into a brand from KSI, gained a YouTube following from his involvement, and is set for his fifth pro fight to be on the undercard to Tyson’s exhibition bout with Roy Jones Jr.
“I haven’t earned the right to reminisce on achievements so far,” the humble Riley told Sky Sports. “It’s about moving forwards and adding to the list. I have had some crazy achievements for someone of my age. I will let everyone acknowledge it and keep going.
“Keep the brand going and, by the time we get to that [world championship] level, hopefully I will have such a monstrous following. It’s something people haven’t seen before, a UK boxer who can bring that crowd together like Ryan Garcia has.”
Garcia, the US prospect who is set to fight Luke Campbell, has an Instagram following of seven million. By comparison, Riley has over a million YouTube subscribers already (KSI has over 10 million).
That means a million people who aren’t necessarily boxing fans are watching Riley’s fight. He says: “I wouldn’t want it any other way. It’s such a rare position that I’m in.”
“To get an opportunity to get in the ring on such a big stage, I am grateful. I will show my appreciation with a big performance.
“I would have expected both guys to have retired! It wouldn’t have been on my mind as an opportunity that may arise. Life is unpredictable.”
He has won his first four pro fights – the first was in Mexico, the third in Dubai, the others in the US. His second fight was on the undercard to Manny Pacquiao’s win over Adrien Broner.
Riley is currently the only Brit signed to Mayweather Promotions and is trained full-time by Jeff Mayweather, who is Floyd’s uncle. He trains and spars with Andrew Tabiti who he calls the best cruiserweight in the world.
Riley will cross paths with the US’s champion of YouTuber boxing, Jake Paul, who is also in action on the Tyson vs Jones Jr undercard.
The YouTuber boxing phenomenon will be extended by Jake Paul next taking on Nate Robinson, a former NBA basketball player.
“It’s interesting that he’s on the same card. It shows his following, what having an audience can do. Boxing is entertainment. What he’s doing is bringing a lot of people to be entertained.
“It upsets a lot of people who think it is invalid. But he has worked at something to get there. He has worked for years at his craft, to make sure people know who he is. Now, whatever he dabbles in people will follow.
“I’m disappointed in the opponent. Nate Robinson has zero boxing experience. He was an NBA star, he isn’t anymore. Someone from the past who is so much smaller than Jake. Way too easy.
“Jake wins, first or second-round knockout.
“He needs to fight KSI. That’s his competition. When Jake fights Nate in November, we will hear something from KSI about boxing.”
The most surprising thing Riley says, from his casual dalliances with the YouTuber elite to the Mayweather inner-circle, is that he thinks social media stars should stop boxing.
“It needs to stop. It’s gone too far now,” he says. “The only fight that makes sense is Jake and KSI. Once that happens, end it on a high note before YouTuber boxing gets a bad name.”
He could be a part of that fight as KSI’s trainer but plans to focus on himself more: “I don’t know how much responsibility I want to take from a coaching aspect. I definitely want KSI to work with other coaches – maybe they can get through to him in a way that I couldn’t. But I will never leave him hanging.”
It is noble that Riley thinks that YouTuber boxing should allow itself to peter out.
But wouldn’t he skyrocket his own brand by fighting a YouTuber himself?
“There is a big difference between me and Jake Paul,” he laughs. “But for the right price…


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