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Bryant Jennings to face Oscar Rivas on Jan. 18

Fighters Network

Heavyweight contender Bryant Jennings has made the most of his comeback with victories over modest opposition. But he will face a tougher challenge on Jan. 18 when he squares off against fellow contender Oscar Rivas, Top Rank announced Tuesday afternoon.

The 12-round bout will take place at the Turning Stone Resort and Casino in Verona, New York, and will air live on ESPN+ (9:30 p.m. ET/ 6:30 p.m. PT).

Jennings (24-2, 14 knockouts) returned to the ring after a 20-month layoff in August of last year, signing with Top Rank, and has won five fights since. In his last bout, Jennings stopped Alexander Dimitrenko in Round 9 in Atlantic City.

The 34-year-old from Philadelphia is now ranked No. 2 by the WBO and No. 7 by the WBA. A win over Rivas could put Jennings in line for a world title shot later in 2019.

“I’ve been in this situation before,” said Jennings, referring to his challenge for a world title belt against Wladimir Klitschko in April 2015. “The job is to stay focused. I’m going to keep grinding and not take anyone lightly. Talk is cheap.”

Rivas (24-0, 17 KOs) is originally from Colombia and now resides in the Montreal area. The 31-year-old does have a fight scheduled on Dec. 1 on the undercard of the Adonis Stevenson-Oleksandr Gvozdyk WBC light heavyweight title fight in Quebec City. He faces hard-hitting Fabio Maldonado (26-0, 25 KOs) in a 10-round bout.

Rivas’ most notable win was a second-round knockout of Joey Abell in November 2015. In his last bout on May 19, Rivas won a one-sided 10-round decision over Herve Hubeaux.

“I’ve waited for this opportunity for a very long time,” said Rivas, who is promoted by Groupe Yvonne Michel (GYM). “Jennings is an excellent boxer. He is a world-class fighter and exactly the kind of challenge I was hoping to face. It is now time to take care of business and step up for the real challenges.”

Rivas is ranked No. 14 by the WBC and the WBA.

In the co-feature, featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson will fight in a 10-round bout against an opponent to be determined.

In his last bout on Oct. 13, Stevenson scored an impressive first-round knockout of Viorel Simion.

“I am ready to begin 2019 where 2018 left off,” said Stevenson, who grew up in Newark, New Jersey. “(2019) will be the year where I take my career to the next level. The fans are going to be in for a treat. It’s my time to shine.”

Francisco A. Salazar can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter at FSalazarBoxing.