Oscar Rivas’ dream of defending a major title in his birth country is officially on hold.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Rivas’ planned WBC Bridgerweight title defense versus Poland’s Lukasz Rozanski has been postponed. The bout was due to headline an August 13 show at Estadio Pascual Guerrero in Cali, Colombia. However, on-site issues beyond the control of GYM [Groupe Yvon Michel] Promotions to move off the date with hopes of rescheduling in September.
“Several logistics problems arose [with] our partners in Colombia,” Yvon Michel, Rivas’ career-long promoter told BoxingScene.com. “We are looking at different scenarios to find another date in Colombia, as to keep Oscar’s dream to defend his WBC title in his native country.”
The event would have marked the first time that Rivas (28-1, 19KOs) fought in his home country since turning pro in 2009, when he relocated to Montreal after representing Colombia in the 2008 Beijing Olympics. The desire of the 35-year-old was to return home with a title to defend, having claimed the newly created WBC Bridgerweight title in a thrilling twelve-round, unanimous decision win over Ryan Rozicki last October in Montreal.
GYM Promotions was prepared to move forward in realizing Rivas’ dream, putting together a show that was to also include Colombia-born former champs Cecilia Braekhus and Eleider Alvarez also in their first-ever fight in country.
Braekhus (36-2, 9KOs)—the former long-reigning undisputed welterweight champion and pound-for-pound queen who is based out of Norway—was due to face unbeaten WBC junior middleweight titlist Patricia Berghult in a bid to become a two-division titleholder. The fight is the first for Braekhus since back-to-back defeats to Jessica McCaskill, the first of which came in August 2020 to end her record-breaking championship reign.
Alvarez (25-2, 13KOs)— also based out of Montreal, like Rivas—is slated to face Alex Theran in a scheduled ten-round cruiserweight bout. The 38-year-old former WBO light heavyweight titlist has not fought since a ninth-round knockout loss to Joe Smith Jr. in their August 2020 title eliminator in Las Vegas. The defeat came more than a year after losing a twelve-round decision to Sergey Kovalev in February 2019, six months after scoring a stunning seventh-round knockout to end Kovalev’s second light heavyweight title reign.
Michel informed BoxingScene.com that both bouts remain in play for whenever the show is rescheduled, as well as a dual title defense for current WBA light heavyweight and WBC heavyweight titlist Hanna Gabriels (21-2-1, 12KOs). Everyone has been brought up to speed, including the unbeaten Rozanski (14-0, 13KOs), who was due to leave in the coming days for his first career fight outside of Poland and for his first major title fight.
“It will definitely be [resolved] shortly,” stated Canada’s leading promoter. “I have already spoken to Andrew Wasilewski, the promoter of Rozanski. He understands the situation and is still on board supporting us.”
“We also have the intention to keep the Berghult/Braekhus fight on the event and Hanna Gabriels also.”
The absolute worst case scenario for the show is to relocate to Canada sometime in October, though only after every option would have been exhausted to keep it in Colombia which remains the priority.
Rivas was among the first fighters to embrace the WBC’s introduction and rollout of the Bridgerweight division in late 2020. The weight range is 191-224 pounds, with the intention to attract big cruiserweights and small heavyweights. Naturally, the concept was met with resistance, nor was it embraced by targeted fighters such as Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk, both of whom have defied the logic that such sized fighters cannot compete with the bigger heavyweights that have become the norm since the late 1990s.
In fact, Usyk—a former undisputed cruiserweight champ—has since claimed the unified WBA/IBF/WBO/IBO heavyweight titles in a twelve-round win over Anthony Joshua last September 25. The two are due to meet in a rematch on August 20 in Saudi Arabia, with Ukraine’s Usyk currently a -200 favorite to successfully defend against the much bigger Joshua.
Rivas emerged as the most notable candidate to further the cause, having since posted two wins in the weight range since a twelve-round defeat to Dillian Whyte in their July 2019 interim WBC heavyweight title fight. The win over Rozicki came with mixed reviews over what was at stake and his being granted the label of a major titleholder. However, the fight itself among the best of 2021 which in turn sparked interest as to his next move.
Unfortunately, that part will have to wait for at least another month.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox