Get ready for the very first bridgerweight world title fight. It’s been reported in numerous places that Oscar Rivas will face Bryant Jennings on June 18 in Montreal and that the fight, actually a rematch between the two, will go down as the very first bridgerweight title affair. Plenty of fight fans have a major problem when it comes to either taking the bridgerweight division seriously (it’s for “smallish” heavyweights, weighing anywhere from 200 to 224 pounds), or in warming to the idea of it. And the criticism doesn’t look like going anywhere with the announcement of this fight. Rivas, as fans know, KO’d Jennings when the two fought back in January of 2019, with Rivas sending Jennings “Bye Bye” in the 12th and final round of their heavyweight bout.
Looking at the bridgerweight rankings, Rivas is ranked at number-one, so fair enough, but Jennings is not the #2 contender, Kevin Lerena is. So in terms of fairness, not to mention credibility, surely Rivas should be fighting Lerena in the very first bridgerweight title fight? As it is, the #1 ranked bridgerweight in the world will be squaring off with the #3 ranked bridgerweight in the world on June 18. in terms of an actual fight, Rivas-Jennings II is not a bad match-up, if not an especially needed one. No doubt Jennings, 24-4(14) will be looking forward to the chance to avenge the defeat he suffered. But can Jennings do it? The Philly fighter is getting on in years at age 36 and he has not won a fight since back in the summer of 2018, when he scored a TKO over Alexander Dimitrenko. Since then, Jennings has been beaten by Rivas and Joe Joyce, with both defeats coming via stoppage. How much has Jennings got left? Does he really deserve a world title shot at this point?
Rivas, three years the younger man and currently 27-1(19) and, in case you’re interested, 1-0(1) as a bridgerweight, is the fresher fighter by some margin. It’s tough to see Rivas failing to defeat Jennings this time around, in fact, maybe Rivas will get the victory in a similar way to when he first defeated Jennings. Rivas, beaten only by Dillian Whyte, this over a competitive 12 rounds back in July of 2019, has won one fight since dropping his unbeaten record, this a stoppage win over Sylvera Louis in his bridgerweight debut earlier this month. Neither Rivas nor Jennings is an especially big heavyweight and maybe this is why they are agreeing to give the new weight division a try. It could be, though, that both men enter the ring for the rematch weighing almost the same weight they did when they first fought, as heavyweights.
It’s tough to accept the upcoming fight as a “world” title fight, yet on paper at least it is just that. Who knows what will come next assuming Rivas wins. The real glory is at heavyweight – or, should a fighter feel able to drop down in weight and fight in a far more accepted weight division, cruiserweight, the real glory is there also. But is there any glory in winning the bridgerweight title? In time, who knows, maybe this new weight division will become accepted the way the cruiserweight division finally was after a number of years of derision. But if this first world title fight has set the standard for the quality of title fights we can expect to see at bridgerweight, then it could take a very long time indeed.
Again, Rivas-Jennings II could prove to be a good fight (the first fight was pretty close until Rivas rallied and got the late stoppage) and one worth watching. But is anyone really going to look at the winner as a legit world champ?