Viddal Riley is relieved to be able to focus on his own career now, but says KSI could have a future of sorts, in boxing
Viddal Riley remains, first and foremost, a fighter. To a certain audience he may be better known for his social media presence and training YouTube star KSI than his own boxing career, but the 22-year-old cruiserweight has never changed the way he sees himself. Having guided KSI to victory over another online icon in American Logan Paul in an LA megashow earlier this month, Riley is now relieved to focus on his own journey once more, having put his career on hold for his friend.
“100 per cent,” he confirmed, two days before flying out to Las Vegas and the Mayweather Gym. “Helping KSI has been a major part of my career also, in terms of raising my profile, the publicity and exposure, but I’ve been in the game to be the best in the game, not the best trainer. I learned a lot, teaching him the fundamentals reminds me of things I learned a long time ago and that are still effective, but I learned more about the media; the fighter meetings, the press conferences, all the things I’ve not reached yet in my career. That’s been my inspiration since I was a kid and I didn’t think I’d see it before I actually achieved it myself. Through KSI, I managed to see my future.
“Having said that, I was more happy for him than I’ve ever been for any of my wins. I expect to win, but when you’re putting your faith into someone else, there is always a chance they won’t deliver. All the energy we channelled, he managed to execute it and perform.”
The 3-0 (2) Londoner last fought back in May and is aiming to return on the December 28 Atlanta show headlined by Mayweather Promotions stablemate Gervonta Davis vs Yuriorkis Gamboa. Having spent so long being the main man in the gym, calling the shots, I was curious how Riley would find having to take instruction once again, albeit from the highly respected Jeff Mayweather.
“It’s not that much of a transition for me because as a fighter I’m pretty independent anyway,” Viddal points out. “I take advice from my coaches of course but I don’t rely solely on them; I study the game myself.”
Plenty of comments made by both KSI and Paul in the build-up to their lucrative clash raised eyebrows, not least the Brit’s claim that he could defeat other professional fighters. As a traditional boxing man, who has been entrenched in the sport for most of his life, Riley could easily have been offended by this, but he instead offers a qualified endorsement of his charge’s view, while leaving the door open to cornering him in the future.
“I think that is fair to say,” Viddal muses. “There are a lot of pro boxers out there worse than KSI or Logan, but he could not beat any pro boxer that has intentions of winning titles. I believe he has a future in boxing as long as he fights people in his realm, which would be celebrities, internet sensations. I wouldn’t want him to fight an accomplished fighter or even a journeyman as that doesn’t benefit him in any way, but it’s too soon for him to make that decision.
“I would have to see the position my career is in and if I could take the time out I would love to help him, but at some point my career has to become the priority. That doesn’t mean he couldn’t train alongside me.”
Riley is hoping to compete a minimum of four times in 2020 and capture a Youth belt of some description, noting that he has ample time on his side. He has taken a lot of positives from his working holiday, but there is one elements of the whole thing he will not miss.
“Anyone would be relieved to not see Shannon Briggs again,” he laughs, referring to Paul’s verbose trainer and former world heavyweight champion with whom he clashed verbally. “He had his time when he was involved in something important. Before the event I didn’t think about him and now the event is over I might say, ‘Let’s go champ’, a few more times but it is what it is.”