Oscar Rivas looks to make history as the first WBC ‘bridgerweight’ titlist
You won’t find bridgerweight in the boxing spellcheck dictionary. Get ready to add it after this weekend.
Oscar Rivas knows the history. The 34-year-old Colombian even went into the origins of how a six-year-old boy named Bridger Walker saved his younger sister from a savage dog attack in July 2020 and received 90 stitches in his face.
On Friday night (ESPN+, 8 p.m. ET) from the Olympia Theatre, in Montreal, Canada, Rivas (27-1, 19 knockouts) will be looking to make history as the WBC’s first “bridgerweight” titlist, the WBC’s new weight division for “smaller” heavyweights that falls between 201 to 224 pounds.
Rivas, who lives in Montreal, will need to get by undefeated 26-year-old Canadian Ryan Rozicki (13-0, 13 KOs) to do it.
The bridgerweight division was created by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman to give smaller heavyweights a chance against fighters their own size. Sulaiman’s basis was the serious threat for smaller heavyweights to fight bigger heavyweights. Though his are admirable, the timing may not be the best for the inaugural bridgerweight title fight.
It comes in the aftermath two weeks ago of Oleksandr Usyk, weighing 221¼, dominating 240-pound Anthony Joshua to win the WBA/IBF/WBO heavyweight titles.
Rivas says that doesn’t matter. He has a chance at title belt and stresses that he’s ready.
“This gives a chance to smaller heavyweights, like me,” said Rivas, who was a bridgerweight twice in his career, 12 years ago when he weighed 223 in a four-round victory over someone named Stephane Tessier in his second pro fight, and when he weighed 221¼ in stopping Sylvera Louis in three rounds back in March. “The size difference doesn’t really matter for me. I’m used to it. I’ve been fighting throughout my pro and amateur careers as a ‘small’ fighter.
“Mike Tyson was a small fighter, but he had the explosive ability to win. I’m very positive about this fight. I was in a good training camp to fight (his original opponent Bryant) Jennings (who opted out over the Canadian COVID vaccination mandate).
“I know Rozicki is a very strong opponent. He is 13-0 with 13 knockouts. He likes to be aggressive and he moves forward. That’s pretty much what I know about him. I know he doesn’t have too much amateur experience. He’s fought at cruiserweight, which is pretty much bridgerweight.”
Rozicki is undefeated, though he’s never faced anyone with the pedigree of Rivas, whose one loss came by 12-round unanimous decision in July 2019 against heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte, who Rivas knocked down in the ninth round.
“Once you step into the ring, who you fought doesn’t matter, what matters is who is in front of you and I expect the best Rozicki possible om October 22,” Rivas said. “I respect Rozicki for taking the fight, and I want thank (Canadian promoter) Yvon Michel for making it happen.
“I have to be careful, because Rozicki is a strong puncher. He likes to make war in the ring, and I have to make sure not to follow his tactics and trade punch for punch. Anything can happen, and I want to make sure I get the best out of myself. I’m more dedicated than ever. I made a lot of changes in my life to become a world champion. It’s my time to become a world champion—and my time is right now.
“I want to show the world that I’m among the best and I deserve to be world champion.”
Joseph Santoliquito is an award-winning sportswriter who has been working for Ring Magazine/RingTV.com since October 1997 and is the president of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be followed on twitter @JSantoliquito.