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Movie sets & masked reveals - Richards on being a 5v5 fighter

Light-heavyweight Craig Richards will represent Eddie Hearn's Matchroom Boxing in the five-versus-five event when he takes on Willy Hutchinson, who is signed to Frank Warren's Queensberry Promotions, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday.

When Eddie Hearn phoned me asking to be on this card, I said yes before even knowing who my opponent was.

It sounded almost too good to be true. I didn’t want to get too excited until I knew it was for real.

But before I knew it, I was in Bulgaria filming a promo video in the style of a big-budget movie trailer.

I play a boxing gym cleaner who, as Eddie puts it in the video, "cleans the floor" with a fighter who disrespects me.

I fancy myself as a bit of an actor now. I was getting a few DMs from Denzel Washington asking if I could be in his next film. I said "hold on, I’ve got a big fight coming up, I’ll get back to you".

Joking aside, that is what I love about this whole five-versus-five card – getting to experience new things; being on a film set, doing the rehearsals, the costume changes.

I never thought I’d experience anything like that in my career. I've been on a lot of big shows in the United Kingdom, but it's just a whole different ball game.

Masks and Matchroom team-mates

In April we had the big masked reveal at a news conference in London.

Me and the other Matchroom fighters were sitting backstage doing a bit of team bonding. We were talking about wanting to get the win, the points system and just the whole occasion.

I had met our team captain, Deontay Wilder, before and I got to know some of the other guys a bit better when we filmed the promo .

We had no idea we would all be wearing masks and walking on to the stage until we got there.

I remember thinking 'I hope this mask is comfortable' because I knew I’d be having to wear it for quite a while.

There is a story that one of my team members was worried about his hair getting messed up with the mask.

I’m not going to make any comment on who that was – I don’t want to be rolling around on the floor with one of my team-mates.

Having spoken with the other Matchroom fighters this week, we’re targeting the clean sweep. I want to win for them and for Eddie, but I also know that they can’t fight for me.

I can’t tag someone in if I’m getting tired in round four. I’ve got a responsibility and job to do and the most important thing is to get the win for my career. That’s my number one priority.

‘Win could change my life’

A graphic showing the names of the fighters on the five versus five card
Former world-title challenger Richards has won 18 pro fights, with three losses and one draw [BBC Sport]

I messaged Eddie when I landed in Riyadh last Friday and he replied saying "this is you now, mate, get used to it".

Boxing abroad has always been on my bucket list and, right now, Saudi is like the new Las Vegas.

The money is obviously great out here, but I came into the game to achieve big things, be on big stages and to win gold.

A win on Saturday can lead me towards world titles, make me more noticeable and put my name in the hat for challenging for big things.

Eddie has told me that I could change my life, as long as I go out there and do the business. I don’t need a bigger incentive than that.

I’d never watched or paid attention to Willy Hutchinson. He wasn’t on my radar or a name in the hat when I was coming through my career.

Once I found out he was going to be the guy I was going to fight, I went on YouTube and did my research on him.

He won a lot as an amateur and has looked good fighting journeymen but he has already lost once as a pro and never fought someone on my level.

So I’ll get my two points for the team with a knockout and then be ringside to root on the others and see them do the same.

Craig Richards was speaking to BBC Sport's Kal Sajad.

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