The bridgerweight division is poised to crown a new king.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that the WBC has ordered a vacant title fight between Croatia’s Alen Babic and Poland’s Lukasz Rozanski. The need for the fight arose when Oscar Rivas relinquished the title upon announcing his retirement due to a detached retina.
The injury forced Rivas (28-1, 19KOs) out of a planned January 14 heavyweight clash versus Efe Ajagba, ahead of a previously scheduled WBC bridgerweight title defense versus Rozanski. The 35-year-old boxer—a 2008 Olympian for Colombia who lives out of Montreal—subsequently informed the Canadian media of his plan to retire from the sport.
At the time, Babic was due to face former secondary WBA cruiserweight titlist Ryad Merhy in what would have served as a final eliminator for the WBC-exclusive divisional title.
‘The Savage’ can now fast forward to the real thing.
WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman confirmed to BoxingScene.com that Babic (12-0, 11KOs) is now in line to directly challenge for the vacant crown versus Rozanski (14-0, 13KOs). Matchroom Boxing, Babic’s career-long promoter, did not immediately respond to an inquiry seeking comment or at least confirmation, though the bout is expected to land on a DAZN show sometime in the first quarter.
Merhy is still eligible to participate in a final eliminator, likely to come versus South Africa’s Kevin Lerena (28-2, 14KOs).
Rozanski has fought exclusively in Poland through seven-plus years as a pro. The veteran heavyweight—who turns 37 later this month—came in at a career-light 223 pounds in his most recent win, a first-round knockout of countryman and former title challenger Artur Szpilka in May 2021. The weight is one pounder under the 224-pound maximum limit for the WBC-exclusive bridgerweight division that was birthed during the 2020 annual WBC convention.
Rivas won the division’s lone major title fight following a twelve-round decision victory over Ryan Rozicki in their October 2021 scorcher. He was due to defend his title versus Rozanski last August in his native Colombia, only for the show to get canceled. The development coupled with his injury leaves the win over Rozicki as the final fight of Rivas’ career.
Babic has emerged as a cult favorite on the U.K. boxing circuit since turning pro in 2019. The all-action boxer has hovered around the traditional cruiserweight limit but has made a point to campaign at bridgerweight.
His last fight came with the division’s WBC Silver title at stake, which he earned in a ten-round, unanimous decision victory over Adam Balski last May 21 at The O2 in London. Babic suffered an opening round knockdown and went the distance, both marking first-time occurrences for the 32-year-old Croatian who is now a win away from his first major title.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox
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