History will not be denied, though it will be met with a delay as it relates to the Bridgerweight division.
Oscar Rivas and Bryant Jennings will have to wait nearly three months longer to collide in the inaugural WBC Bridgerweight title fight, which was due to take place June 18 at Bell Centre in Montreal, Canada. A conference call with the Direction régionale de santé publique de Montreal (DRSP/Montreal Regional Public Health Department) prompted event handlers to push back the rematch to a September date to be determined.
"It is with disappointment, especially for our boxers, that we welcomed the decision and the comments of the DRSP of Montreal but we understand the situation,” explained promoter Yvon Michel. “We appreciated the quality of the conversation and their commitment to work with us.”
The event was due to stream live on ESPN+ in the United States. An interim junior middleweight title fight between former titlist Marie Eve Dicaire (17-1, 0KOs) and Sweden’s Patricia Berghult (14-0, 3KOs) was also impacted and is expected to remain on the show once the new date is finalized.
Concerns over public demand far exceeding what current social distancing measures will allow for an event of this magnitude in Canada prompted the decision to pull the plug on the mid-June date. An emergency meeting held between all parties determined that fans still won’t be permitted to attend an event by that time due to the ongoing pandemic, with the belief that—between COVID vaccination and continued safety measures in place—things will improve enough to where time is on there side.
“We have one last collective effort to make to get through this appalling pandemic and at GYM we are determined to do our part,” vows Michel.
The event will mark the first-ever sanctioned title fight for the newly formed Bridgerweight division, which was created last fall by the WBC and is meant to narrow the gap between cruiserweight and heavyweight. The division carries a 224-pound weight limit, intended to benefit smaller-sized heavyweights such as Rivas and Jennings.
Rivas (27-1, 19KOs) took a test drive in his most recent fight. The 2008 Colombian Olympian—who has fought out of Montreal since turning pro in 2009—weight a career-lightest 221 ¼ pounds in a 3rd round knockout of Sylvera Louis this past March in Quebec. The win marked his first fight since a competitive but clear 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Dillian Whyte in July 2019.
The loss to Whyte took place six months after Rivas scored the biggest win of his career, a 12th round stoppage of Jennings in Jan. 2019 at Turning Stone Resort & Casino in Verona, New York. Rivas weighed 234 pounds for the fight, while Jennings (24-4, 14KOs) was 225 ¼ pounds. The Philadelphia-bred heavyweight was 226 pounds for his most recent star, a 12-round unanimous decision defeat to unbeaten Joe Joyce in July 2019, one week prior to Rivas’ aforementioned loss to Whyte.
Jennings has weighed as light as 218 in his pro career and was targeted along with Rivas by the WBC as among the ideal candidates for the new weight division. The two agreed to meet in the sanctioning body’s inaugural title fight and remain on board to do so in September.
Additional details are expected to be provided with the rescheduled date, including updated health protocols as the show figures to be the biggest boxing event to take place in Canada since the pandemic.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox