Boxing | Thursday, September 16, 2021

Boxing has a new world championship in a whole new weight class as Oscar Rivas and Bryant Jennings have agreed to meet for the brand new WBC bridgerweight championship. The duo, who have fought once before, were initially scheduled to face off in June before the event was initially pushed back to September, before settling in October.

Bridgerweight was created by the WBC last November to “bridge” the gap between cruiserweight and heavyweight. In a healthy double sense, the title was named after Bridger Walker, a brave youngster who saved his sister from a dog attack and was honored by the WBC. A commemoration of a child’s bravery is where this idea should have stayed, as it’s unclear who the bridge weight division is for.

Contested between 200 and 224 pounds, the idea behind it is to give fighters too big for cruiserweight, but undersized for heavyweight, a chance to compete for world honors. Supporters of the plan will point to the current heavyweight kings as one reason why such a split is needed. WBC boss Tyson Fury is 6 feet 7 inches tall and weighed 273 pounds on his last outing. WBA, IBF and WBO leader Anthony Joshua is nearly 6ft 5in and measured 240lb in his previous fight. Coupled with the fact that the past decade has been dominated by the Klitschko brothers, Vitali and Wladimir, both measuring 6ft 5in themselves, it’s clear that the top division has become the land of giants.

The days of small heavyweights like Rocky Marciano, Muhammad Ali and Evander Holyfield seem to be over. This is certainly the argument the WBC would make as to why they forged a new weight class.

However, on closer inspection, this argument starts to sound like an acute form of recency bias, as the age of the giant heavyweight is not as entrenched as it seems. Since the year 2000, a number of fighters who would fit into the bridgeweight category have reigned as heavyweight champions. Ignoring their “regular” fake belts, the WBA crowned six champions who weighed under the 224 Ib limit for at least one fight during their reign. The WBO had four title reigns by boxers who would fit into this new class. The IBF and WBC each have a potential bridgeweight champion. In total, there have been twelve distinct title reigns by people for whom this new weight class has apparently been created.

Do you think any of these men would sacrifice his name reading after “… and the new heavyweight world champion …” to claim a belt in a backcountry division that no one else does. asked?

One of these champions mentioned above requires further consideration. While the WBC, the creators of this new entity, had only one bridgeweight as heavyweight champion this millennium, it was remarkable. Deontay Wilder has defended the title 10 times, eliminating a procession of taller men to retain the crown. Such dominance suggests that height isn’t the obstacle to heavyweight supremacy that many claim. “The Bronze Bomber” was apparently the fighter that WBC president Mauricio Sulaimán sought to portray at the bridgerweight, but he has publicly refused to fight in the division, and instead aims to reclaim his old belt from Tyson. Fury next month.

In fact, most of the fighters you would traditionally classify as “world class” refused to participate in the WBC experience. Current bridgerweight ratings from the WBC website list undefeated but untested prospect Evgeny Romanov at number two, below title challenger Rivas, but above opponent Jennings. 8-0 Matchroom star Alen Babic is in fifth place, while run-down Artur Szpilka and Marco Huck find themselves in the top 15. More bizarrely, the 13-3 Gabriel Garcia currently finds himself ranked in each place of 33 at 39. Class boxers seem to take this new invention as seriously as the WBC webmaster at this early stage.

But what about Bryant Jennings and Oscar Rivas? Does the first fight in the WBC bridgerweight championship have merit? As a world title fight, that is definitely not the case. As a contest, it is. Rivas stopped Jennings in the 12th round of a competitive fight when they met in 2019, and a rematch isn’t a bad decision either. Jennings was ahead of one of the three scorecards when he was arrested, and as a former heavyweight title challenger his name carries some credibility.

Rivas took Dillian Whyte to the end in his only loss, and looked decent to do so. This contest looks more like a heavyweight eliminator than a world title junkyard, but as boxing continues to degrade on the big stage with non-competitors and retired athletes, it at least promises to. be a harmless spectacle.

Ultimately, however, there’s a reason none of the major sanctioning bodies have thought about it before. As early as 1995, minor belt factories were pumping unnecessary prices for a similar weight limit. The UMA then crowned Bobby Cyz as their “super-cruiserweight” champion, and the alphabet soup was stirred again when the great James “Lights Out” Toney received the IBA version in 2001.

There’s a reason the WBC, IBF, WBO, and WBA didn’t embrace the division back then, and it’s for the same reason the latter three have refused to do so now. Fighters from the cruiserweight division want to be the heavyweight champion of the world, and at the end of the day, chasing that dream is more appealing than receiving a consolation prize in a division with no history or pedigree.

The WBC gave in because in the modern age they produce more belts than Calvin Klein, and that’s maybe a half no less ridiculous than the Maya, Crypto, and Frontline Battle belts we’ve seen in recent years. years. Let them continue, for now it looks like the best fighters and fans can see through the front of the weight of the bridge.

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