By James Blears
Oscar Rivas fights Ryan Rozicki for the inaugural Bridgerweight Title, and the Green and Gold Belt that comes with it, on October 22nd at L`Olympia, Montreal.
Late replacements can sometimes prove very problematic. Reflecting about his last pro fight, which was against Vitali Klitschko, who stepped in for Kirk Johnson, who`d suffered a chest injury in training, Lennox Lewis succinctly warned: “Never take a fight at sixteen days notice!”
Oscar Rivas has taken a fight against Ryan “Bruiser” Rozicki on just over three weeks notice. This happened after Bryant Jennings, who refused to be vaccinated against Covid 19 pulled out, objecting to the strictures of Canadian quarantine laws.
Bryant who has an elongated eighty four inch reach and is known for his elegant jab, didn`t want to take a different sort of one during the ongoing pandemic. A former heavyweight title challenger, who lost a UD to Wladimir Klitschko, Bryant was stopped in the twelfth and final round by Oscar, when they first fought in January 2018, at the Turning Stone Resort & Casino, Verona, New York.
In that fight the max factor was Oscar`s Trainer Marc Ramsey, who gave Oscar a fearful ear bashing in the corner from round nine onwards. So it went on, ominously echoing through the stadium. But it proved the turning point at the Turning Stone. Going into the twelfth, Oscar, who`d had verbal strips torn off himself, earned his stripes by turning tiger, clawing back the advantage, launching an ambush attack, pouncing on Bryant, driving him on to the ropes, befuddling him and dropping him.
Bryant clambered up, only to receive more of the same and Referee Gary Rosato stepped in to save him at the fifty four seconds mark.
Back then the NABF, IBF International and WBO NABO titles were at stake. This time Bryant would have been contesting the WBC Absolute Bridgerweight Belt. An historic first!
For his beliefs and his own reasons, Bryant has declined under these circumstances to go for the rematch and this unique opportunity. So, he`s out of the picture and Ryan from Nova Scotia has taken his place. Ryan faces and takes on a daunting seesaw prospect. Ranked eighteen by the WBC in the cruiserweight division, he`s boldly and steeply stepping up a division to Bridgerweight. While Oscar is moving down just a tad, from heavyweight.
Ryan aged twenty six, is six feet two inches tall. He`s stopped all thirteen of his opponents, but has never yet faced a fighter of the caliber and proven power of Oscar. Ryan had never gone more than three rounds until before stopping Sylvera Louis in the sixth in April, winning the NABA Canadian cruiserweight title. That was just thirty eight days after Oscar had disposed of the very same guy. Sylvera retired on his stool after three one sided drubbing rounds.
Ryan`s biggest test to date came against Russian Kehtag Pliev. Both went to war from the outset in round one and Ryan emerged with a fractured right eye socket and his face drenched in blood. Upping the already frenetic tempo, he put Kehtag down with a huge left hook. The Russian bravely but unsteadily got up and Ryan went in for the finish. All done and dusted, but also dented!
Ryan, who`s a tremendous body puncher and ferocious head hunter, is ruthless and he`s relentless. But, against someone of Oscar`s experience, he can`t afford to make and wouldn`t get away with a single mistake, which would be unforgivingly punished. He has to technically tighten up, without losing the natural molten lava of his fighting fluidity.
Prior to this he overcame tough US fighter Shawn Miller for the vacant WBC International Silver crown. In that fight, Ryan proved how effective his body punching is. Its accumulation hurt Miller, who then went down from a big right to the head. He got up and was put down by another big right. It was all over in the third.
Ryan is undaunted by the magnitude of what lies ahead. He has said: “Rivas is my toughest opponent. It`s everything I`ve dreamed about since I started boxing. On October 22nd, I will become world champion!”
It`s extremely unlikely that Oscar could be defeated with the ease, to which Ryan has become accustomed, since his pro debut in 2016. If it goes past six in their upcoming fight, Ryan will be in uncharted territory. Then the real test of navigation will begin.
Oscar, who`s originally from Colombia, but now calls Montreal home, is nicknamed “Kaboom” for a reason. He stands six feet and a half inch tall. A 2008 Olympian, he defeated Kubrat Pulev from Bulgaria, but lost to world amateur champion and eventual Gold Medalist Roberto Camarelle.
Oscar turned pro in 2009. Now aged thirty four, his record is 27-1 with 19 KO`s. Undefeated after twenty fights, he walked through Carl Davis Drummond, unleashing a mighty KO in sixty eight seconds, to win the vacant NABF heavyweight title.
Oscar`s only loss was for the vacant WBC Interim title, to Dillian Whyte, who he upended in the ninth with a right uppercut, but lost via a UD. This followed his triumph against Bryant Jennings. For this upcoming fight he`s at his natural weight in this new division which spans 200lbs to 224lbs. Coming down is easier than going up, but the Bridgerweight limit is bang on his best fighting weight.
Pundits are fond of referring to boxers in the lighter weight categories as little big men. Oscar and Ryan are big but not huge men. The overall and growing weight disparity is why the World Boxing Council created the Bridgerweight Division on November 9th 2020. It`s the next one up from cruiserweight, which reaches two hundred pounds, and that in its turn sits above light heavyweight, which has a limit of one hundred and seventy five pounds.
Bridgerweight was named after then six year old Bridger Walker, who courageously saved his sister aged four from a dog attack, and suffered severe facial injuries in the process, requiring ninety stitches. The WBC presented him a Hero of Humanity Award.
As of now, no other boxing organization has adopted the Bridgerweight Division. Throughout its history, the World Boxing Council, has championed pioneering innovation, most notably reducing world championship fights from fifteen to twelve rounds. That took some time to dawn on the others, and for them to follow on.
Opposition to change is nothing new. There were howls of protest when the light heavyweight division was created in 1903. So much so, that Bob Fitzsimmons who won it, by giving George Gardner a twenty rounds boxing lesson, was not recognized as champion.
“Ruby Bob” had previously been middleweight champion of the world, and then won the heavyweight crown weighing less than one hundred and seventy pounds. The so called experts argued that as “The Freckled Wonder,” had been heavyweight champion, he could not be the light heavyweight champion?
But, over time the light heavyweight division became popular and well respected. It`s produced a wondrous array of superstars including: Ezzard Charles, Billy Conn, Gus Lesnevich, Archie Moore, Bob Foster, Michael Moorer, Michael Spinks, Roy Jones Jr, Andre Ward, John Conteh, Matthew Saad Muhammad, Badou Jack and Sergey Kovalev.
Charles, Spinks, Moorer and Jones won the heavyweight title, but that was prior to the era of behemoth heavyweights, which has emerged during the last fifteen years.
Bridgerweight is now necessary to span that gulf, which is an undisputable fact. Back in the mid twentieth century, Jose Louis was the perfectly proportioned heavyweight champion at two hundred pounds. By the era of Muhammad Ali and Big George Foreman, a touch over two hundred and fifteen pounds was thought to be ideal. But then and inevitably, it got bigger and heavier, year by year and pound by pound.
Today`s champion Tyson Fury weighs in at two hundred and seventy seven pounds. Compare this to the early 1950`s when Rocky Marciano, who was the best conditioned heavyweight of all time, was a lean, mean one hundred and eighty four pounds.
In this first fight for the Bridgerweight title, “Kaboom” is the odds, but not odds on favorite against “Bruiser.” He`s naturally heavier if not taller. He has more experience and has fought against more exacting opponents.
But… Ryan who`s a big hitter in his own right, is undefeated and is determined to seize upon the opportunity of a lifetime. Those who consider his chances are slim and none… and slim`s out of town, might do well to remember what Andy Ruiz achieved one division higher against Anthony Joshua, first time around. Water under the bridge, but not that long ago.
WORLD BOXING COUNCIL
WBC HONORARY POSTHUMOUS LIFETIME PRESIDENT (+)
Mauricio Sulaimán WBC PRESIDENT
VACANT WBC BRIDGERWEIGHT TITLE
OLYMPIA THEATREMONTREAL, QUEBEC, CANADA
OCTOBER 22, 2021
THIS WILL BE THE WBC’S 2, 117 CHAMPIONSHIP TITLE FIGHT IN THE FIFTY-EIGHT YEAR HISTORY OF THE WBC
OSCAR RIVAS RYAN ROZICKI
WBC no. 1 WBC no. 15
Nationality: Colombia Nationality: Canada
Date of Birth: June 6, 1987 Date of Birth: February 20, 1995
Birthplace: Cali, Colombia Birthplace: Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
Residence: Montreal, Canada Residence: Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
Alias: Kaboom Alias: The Bruiser
Record: 27-1-0, 19 ko’s Record: 13-0-0, 13 ko’s
KO’S %: 67.9% KO’S %: 100%
Age: 34 Age: 26
Guard: Orthodox Guard: Orthodox
Total rounds: 122 Total rounds: 30
World title fights: 1 (0-1-0) World title fights: 0 (0-0-0)
Trainer: Marc Ramsay Trainer:
Manager: Yvon Michel Advisor: Daniel Oetter
Promoter: Group Yvon Michel Manager: Three Lions Promotions
THIS WILL BE THE FIRST TITLE FIGHT FOR THE BRIDGERWEIGHT CHAMPIONSHIP IN AL WBC´S HISTORY
WBC TITLE BOUTS HELD IN CANADA
39 BOUTS HAVE BEEN HELD IN CANADA IN THE ENTIRE WBC HISTORY
THIS WILL BE THE FIRST WBC BRIDGERWEIGHT TITLE BOUT CELEBRATED IN CANADA
LT. HEAVY 1
TOTAL BOUTS 39
29/03/1966 MUHAMMAD ALI – GEORGE CHUVALO DEC 15 TORONTO HE
21/09/1973 JOSE NAPOLES – CLYDE GRAY DEC 15 TORONTO WE
11/05/1980 M. SAAD MUHAMMAD – LOUIS PERGAUD TKO 5 HALIFAX LH
20/06/1980 ROBERTO DURAN – RAY LEONARD DEC 15 MONTREAL WE
25/11/1983 MICHAEL SPINKS – OSCAR RIVADENEYRA TKO 10 VANCOUVER LH
15/12/2000 DAVE HILTON – DINGAAN THOBELA DEC 12 MONTREAL SM
10/07/2001 ERIC LUCAS – GLENN CATLEY KO 7 MONTREAL SM
30/11/2001 ERIC LUCAS – DINGAAN THOBELA KO 8 MONTREAL SM
06/09/2002 ERIC LUCAS – OMAR SHEIKA DEC 12 MONTREAL SM
20/12/2003 DANNY GREEN – ERIC LUCAS (INTERIM) TKO 6 MONTREAL SM
08/04/2006 LIBARDO ANDRADE – OTIS GRANT (ELIMINATORY) TKO 7 MONTREAL SM
09/05/2007 ADRIAN DIACONU – RICO HOYE (ELIM.) TKO 3 MONTREAL LH
04/04/2009 TIMOTHY BRADLEY – KENDALL HOLT UD 12 MONTREAL SL
19/06/2009 JEAN PASCAL – ADRIAN DIACONU DEC 12 MONTREAL LH
25/09/2009 JEAN PASCAL – SILVIO BRANCO TKO 10 MONTREAL LH
11/12/2009 JEAN PASCAL – ADRIAN DIACONU UD 12 MONTREAL LH
14/08/2010 JEAN PASCAL – CHAD DAWSON TDEC 11 MONTREAL LH
18/12/2010 JEAN PASCAL – BERNARD HOPKINS DREW 12 QUEBEC CITY LH
08/04/2011 MARCO ANTONIO RUBIO – DAVID LEMIEUX (ELIM.) TKO 7 MONTREAL MI
21/05/2011 BERNARD HOPKINS – JEAN PASCAL UD 12 MONTREAL LH
21/05/2011 CHAD DAWSON – ADRIAN DIACONU (ELIM. SEMI.) UD 12 MONTREAL LH
20/04/2012 ADONIS STEVENSON – NOE GONZALEZ (SILVER) TKO 2 MONTREAL SM
08/06/2013 ADONIS STEVENSON – CHAD DAWSON KO 1 MONTREAL LH
28/09/2013 ADONIS STEVENSON – TAVORIS CLOUD TKO 7 MONTREAL LH
30/11/2013 ADONIS STEVENSON – TONY BELLEW TKO 6 QUEBEC CITY LH
18/01/2014 JEAN PASCAL – LUCIAN BUTE UD 12 MONTREAL LH
24/05/2014 ADONIS STEVENSON – ANDRZEJ FONFARA UD 12 MONTREAL LH
19/12/2014 ADONIS STEVENSON – DMITRY SUKHOTSKY KO 5 QUEBEC CITY LH
14/03/2015 SERGEY KOVALEV (WBO) – JEAN PASCAL (DIAMOND BELT) TKO 8 MONTREAL LH
04/04/2015 ADONIS STEVENSON – SAKIO BIKA UD 12 QUEBEC CITY LH
15/08/2015 ELEIDER ALVAREZ – ISIDRO RANONI (SILVER) UD 12 MONTREAL LH
11/09/2015 ADONIS STEVENSON – TOMMY KARPENCY TKO 3 TORONTO LH
28/11/2015 ELEIDER ALVAREZ – ISAAC CHILEMBA MD 12 QUEBEC CITY LH
29/07/2016 ADONIS STEVENSON – THOMAS WILLIAMS JR. KO 4 QUEBEC CITY LH
24/02/2017 ELEIDER ALVAREZ – LUCIAN BUTE TKO 5 QUEBEC CITY LH
03/06/2017 ADONIS STEVENSON – ANDRZEJ FONFARA TKO 2 MONTREAL LH
03/06/2017 ELEIDER ALVAREZ – JEAN PASCAL (SILVER) MD 12 MONTREAL LH
19/05/2018 ADONIS STEVENSON – BADOU JACK DREW MD 12 TORONTO LH
01/12/2018 OLEKSANDER GVOZDYK – ADONIS STEVENSON KO 11 QUEBEC CITY LH
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