When Mauricio Sulaiman of the World Boxing Council announced the inaugural rankings for a new heavyweight division – which he dubbed “Bridgerweight” and which runs from 200-224 pounds – earlier this month, the boxing world, not known for its unity or cooperation, came together to utter a collective sigh of disdain.
The idea behind this venture, according to Sulaiman, was to offer those heavyweights whose stature is such that they would be at a significant size disadvantage against the top-tier heavyweights of the division, like Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, both of whom have been known to hit the scales around the 250-pound range. (The skeptic, however, may point out that it is just one more funnel through which the WBC can extract another one of its percentages).
One man who was not averse to the news, however, was Oscar Rivas, the Montreal-based Columbian heavyweight whose name, incidentally, was inserted to the top of the new rankings, and his promoter Yvon Michel.
“Our priority for Oscar stills remains to get him big fights in the heavyweight division,” Michel told The Journal of Montreal. “On the other hand, that doesn’t mean we will dismiss any plans for the bridgerweight division as it allows us to not put our eggs all in one basket.
“If it looks like things in the heavyweight division aren’t to our taste, we will not rule out the possibility for Oscar to become the first champion in this weight class.”
The irony, of course, is that Rivas has weighed north of the 224-pound limit for pretty much his entire career, which, in theory, would not make him eligible to contend for the Bridgerweight title. Moreover, it throws cold water over the notion that this division was invented to help out heavyweights who were on the lighter end of the spectrum. (Then again, we are talking about the WBC, an organization that is tone-deaf to rational thinking).
Michel, however, countered that Rivas (26-1, 18 KOs) would have no trouble meeting the limit.
“Throughout his career, Oscar weighed around 236 pounds,” Michel said. “I do not see a problem asking him to lose 12 pounds or so to fight other bridgerweights. Rivas is in great shape all the time. He is in a great place training with [head trainer] Marc Ramsay.”
Still, according to Michel, there is nothing more that Rivas wants to do presently than to take another stab at Dillian Whyte, whom he lost by controversial decision in July 2019. Rivas has not fought since then. BoxingScene.com reported at the time that Whyte had tested positive for a banned substance prior to the fight; Whyte was eventually cleared by UK Anti-Doping.
“We made our intentions clear to everybody in the last few weeks,” Michel said. “Oscar is ready no matter what. I would like for him to get the rematch against Dillian Whyte and I would like to see this fight land on the under-card of the superfight between Anthony Joshua and Tyrosn Fury.
Here are the current bridgerweight rankings:
1. Oscar Rivas
2. Ryad Merhy
3. Kevin Lerena
4. Dmitry Kudryashov
5. Evgeny Romanov
6. Bryant Jennings
7. Artur Szpilka
8. Alen Babic
9. Joel Tambwe Djeko
10. Shigabudin Aliev
11. Marco Huck
12. Bilal Laggoune
13. Samuel Kadje
14. Rashid Kodzoev
15. Isaac Chamberlain