Bryant “B.Y.” Jennings is itching for another heavyweight world title shot. The 34-year-old Philadelphia native has won five consecutive bouts, four by knockout, and is intent on making an emphatic statement.
Jennings will put his IBF International and NABO heavyweight belts on the line in a 12-round showdown against the unbeaten NABF champion Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas on Friday, Jan. 18 at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, N.Y. In the 10-round co-feature, undefeated featherweight sensation and 2016 U.S. Olympic silver medalist Shakur Stevenson will face an opponent to be determined.
Rivas’ participation in the bout is contingent on him defending his NABF title on Dec. 1 against Fabio Maldonado in Quebec City.
Jennings-Rivas and the Stevenson bout will stream live at 9:30 p.m. on ESPN+ — the new multi-sport, direct-to-consumer subscription streaming service from The Walt Disney Company’s Direct-to-Consumer & International segment in conjunction with ESPN. The undercard will stream live on ESPN+ beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.
Promoted by Top Rank, in association with Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), ticket information for this world-class night of boxing will be announced shortly.
“I’ve been in this situation before. This is not a tall order at all,” Jennings said. “The job is to stay focused. I’m going to keep grinding and not take anybody lightly. Talk is cheap.”
‘‘I’ve waited for this opportunity for a very long time,” Rivas said. “Jennings is an excellent boxer. He is a world-class fighter and exactly the kind of challenge I was hoping to face. It is now time to take care of business and step up for the real challenges.’’
“I am ready to begin 2019 where 2018 left off,” Stevenson said. “This will be the year where I take my career to the next level. The fans are going to be in for a treat. It’s my time to shine.”
Jennings (24-2, 14 KOs), a former football, basketball, and track star at North Philadelphia’s Ben Franklin High School, did not pick up a pair of boxing gloves until he was 24 years old. He turned pro following an abbreviated 17-fight amateur career and quickly rose the ranks despite his limited experience. He fought valiantly in a 2015 title shot against Wladimir Klitschko, pushing the future Hall of Famer the distance in front of 17,056 fans at Madison Square Garden. Following a TKO defeat to Luis Ortiz later that year at Turning Stone Resort Casino, Jennings took 20 months off, returning to action in August 2017 under the Top Rank banner.
Since then, he has been one of the busiest heavyweight contenders as he seeks another shot on the world championship stage. In his last bout, Aug. 18 in Atlantic City as the headliner on an ESPN-televised card, Jennings recovered from a fourth-round knockdown to stop longtime contender Alexander Dimitrenko in the ninth.
Rivas (24-0, 17 KOs), a former Colombian amateur standout who now lives in Montreal, has fought all but two of his professional bouts in Canada. A nine-year pro, he transitioned to the paid ranks following a 2007 Pan American Games silver medal and quarterfinal berth at the 2008 Olympics. At 31 years old, the athletic, 240-pound Rivas is in his physical prime. He won the NABF title on Sept. 28, 2017 with a spectacular first-round stoppage against former world title challenger Carl Davis Drummond. In his last outing, May 19 at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, he wore down Herve Hubeaux and prevailed via 10-round unanimous decision to retain the NABF title.
Stevenson (9-0, 5 KOs), a proud native of Newark, N.J., authored one of the great United States amateur careers. At the 2016 Olympics, Stevenson earned a silver medal following a controversial 2-1 decision loss to Cuba’s Robeisy Ramirez in the championship match. Using that heartbreak as motivation, Stevenson soon showed why he is considered among the sport’s rising stars. He went 5-0 with three knockouts in 2018, and in his last fight, Oct. 13 on the ESPN-televised undercard of the Terence Crawford-Jose Benavidez Jr. main event, he knocked down Viorel Simion three times en route to a first-round TKO. Simion, 21-2 entering the fight, had never been knocked down as a pro.