The unique tale of Viddal Riley: What does the future hold for KSI's ex-trainer?

After training YouTube stars KSI and AnEsonGib, Viddal Riley is now concentrating on his own career and he is set to be an asset for Boxxer/Sky Sports.

Unique is certainly an apt word to describe Viddal Riley's journey in boxing so far.

Late last year, he put pen-to-paper on an exclusive deal with Boxxer to appear on Sky Sports boxing.

The fledgling organisation are delighted to have him. Speaking on the signing, Boxxer's Ben Shalom stated:

"The sky's the limit for Viddal - he has a huge following, an infectious personality and, most importantly, the ability to go to the top of the sport."

Now when this deal was announced, many would have assumed that it would be ahead of Riley's pro debut.

But no, that is not the case. Before that is covered, let's take a look back at what was a glittering amateur career for the Brit.

The 24-year-old's father - Derrick Riley - played a massive influence on his son's start in boxing as he first laced up a pair of gloves aged six.

Riley soon knew that a career in boxing was what he wanted to strive for. He competed for England at the 2013 European Junior Championships in Anapa, Russia. He won a silver medal as a light heavyweight.

'RIL' also won eight national championships as he finished with an overall record of 41-8, which included 19 victories by stoppage.

An even better signal of his ability is that he picked up wins over fellow Brits Daniel Dubois and Chris Billam-Smith as an amateur.

Riley would have been eyeing up a traditional route into the sport ahead of his professional debut.

His plans changed in 2018, however. This came via a chance meeting with YouTube star KSI.

The pair had mutual friends and they met in the gym ahead of KSI's boxing debut against fellow social media star Joe Weller at the Copper Box Arena.

Now when you listen to Riley speak and watch him box, it is clear to see that he is a man beyond his years.

Therefore it comes as no surprise that Riley was asked by KSI and AnEsonGib to train them.

There would no doubt have been many naysayers questioning Riley's decision to put his career on the backburner for a while so he can train a couple of YouTubers.

Yet looking back now in hindsight, it seems to have been an inspired decision. There was only so much Riley could have done with them, given that he was working with novices with no prior boxing experience.

But he did an admirable job as he maximised what he could get out of the duo, who poured their heart and soul into training.

This earned Riley more respect within the YouTube community, which he was quick to capitalise on.

His astuteness was on show as he created his own YouTube channel - dedicated mainly to boxing content - in 2018.

This channel now has over 1m subscribers. His work to grow that channel enabled him to release several rap mixtapes, plus his own clothing brand - 'RIL Athletics'.

This all - it's worth reminding you - was before he even stepped into the bright lights as a professional boxer.

Mightily impressive as it is, the best was yet to come for the young fighter…

KSI later clashed with Logan Paul, who battled Floyd Mayweather Jr in 2021 (strangely). Before their second fight, KSI and Riley jetted out to Las Vegas to train at the famous Mayweather Boxing Club.

It was there where they worked with Badou Jack, Jeff Mayweather and Amer Abdallah.

Clearly knowing the opportunity that lay before his trainer, KSI encouraged Riley to have a spar of his own before they left.

To the surprise of Mayweather and Abdallah, Riley was able to drop former IBF cruiserweight title challenger Andrew Tabiti.

This quickly got the attention of those in the gym, as soon after, Riley was signed to Mayweather Promotions.

On the signing, Abdallah said: "Riley sets traps, makes calculated moves and punches like a mule. I can see him being a two-division world champion."

High praise indeed, and their faith in Riley was clear from the get-go. In his second fight, he appeared on the Manny Pacquiao vs Adrien Broner undercard at the MGM Grand Garden Arena in January 2019.

Later that year, he headlined his own card in Dubai as he beat Nigeria's Austine Nnamdi.

All valuable experience for Riley, who fought in Mexico, Dubai and USA as he won his first four pro fights.

Riley's relationship with Mayweather Promotions came to a premature end though as injuries, visa issues and Covid-19 got in the way of his progress.

He had just short of two years out of the ring prior to his return on the Amir Khan vs Kell Brook undercard last month.

The Brit was impressive as he picked up a points victory over Willbeforce Shihepo (what a first name, by the way).

RIL is set to be busy for the rest of this year as he looks to build up his experience as a professional.

Given all that he has done already, it's rather baffling that Riley is still only 24. Because of this, Boxxer do not need to rush Riley.

Considering his significant social media following, he is a major asset to Sky Sports 2.0, both in the ring and out of it as a presenter and interviewer.

Competition with DAZN and BT Sport is rife, so Sky Sports need as many big draws as they can and Riley can certainly be one of them.

The Brit has a bit of everything. The ability and boxing IQ to switch stances as well as the power to stop any opponent in their stride.

Riley definitely has the ability to become a world champion in the future. Lawrence Okolie and Mairis Briedis are arguably battling it out for the tag of being the best cruiserweight around currently.

Given that Briedis is now 37, it is likely that he will have retired by the time Riley reaches world level.

With the Latvian out of the picture, the Brits are primed to take over the cruiserweight division.

As well as Riley, the likes of Billam-Smith, Tommy McCarthy and Richard Riakporhe are well-set to challenge for world honours in the future.

It is an exciting time for the cruiserweight scene in Britain and Riley is bound to be right at the forefront of the action…

Read more: Conor Benn confirms his ring return for April 16

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