After the WBC introduced the new weight class earlier this year, Oscar Rivas claimed the first-ever bridgerweight title victory.
The Colombian, who Canada adopted, won a UD to lift the World Boxing Council’s new crown aloft.
“Kaboom” was made to fight every inch of the way to achieve it by intrepid oh so brave Nova Scotian Ryan “Bruiser” Rozicki.
It was a power-punching and fabulous contest at the plushly restored L`Olympia Theater in Montreal.
Both did the new division proudly. They have established a glorious legacy to follow, christening Boxing`s eighteenth division vintage champagne style, with an effervescent thriller, which fans will long remember.
After Bryant Jennings was unable to compete due to the strictures of quarantine, Ryan took the fight on barely three weeks’ notice. But he was no stand-in.
Nor was he there to make up the numbers. Ambitious and hungry, he fought his heart out all the way against the bigger, harder-hitting, and more powerful man, accrediting himself splendidly.
He may have lost his undefeated record, but he´s gained new fans and glistening heaps of respect by Jove.
At the official weigh-in, taller leaner Ryan registered two hundred and three pounds. While the shorter but stockier broader-backed Oscar was two hundred and twenty-two pounds, just two pounds within the 224lbs limit, and as the fight wore on, the extra poundage proved a distinct advantage for him.
Until now, Ryan, who`s now 13-1, 13 KO`s, had fought forty-three rounds and never gone past the sixth round.
While more experienced Oscar, now 28-1, 19 KO`s had fought one hundred and twenty-two rounds and knows what it`s like to go the full distance.
As they sportingly touched gloves just before the action started, Referee Mike Griffin wished both luck, saying: “God bless you both.”
Many fights are euphemistically dubbed with the drubbing epithet “War.” This one truly lived up to the often used and sometimes casually applied plaudit.
Ryan wearing black gloves was using his left jab, and then they got in very close. He threw a right uppercut. But then, almost a seismic shock as yellow-gloved Oscar landed a massive short right hand. It shook Ryan down to his boots, just a couple of seconds shy of the bell.
Ryan used his left jab at the beginning of the second but again got caught with a big right. Both exchanged uppercuts, and then Oscar unleashed another big right, which Ryan took well. He demonstrated great physical conditioning.
In the third, Ryan started to open up. Therefore, Oscar went to the body. He then slammed in a straight right upstairs, followed by a right uppercut. Ryan didn`t back off and fought back with gusto.
Another short right hurt Ryan in the fourth, and he responded with a smart left hook, but his punches weren`t carrying the same zinging clout. He was caught by another right and answered back with a left-right combination.
Ryan wasn`t using his longer reach, preferring to crowd Oscar to prevent him from getting medium-range leverage on his punches, which has previously proved so destructively effective.
More of the same in the fifth, and Ryan`s nose started to bleed quite a lot. Although staunched by his cornermen, it would continue to seep for the rest of the fight.
Oscar was landing with more accuracy and frequency in the sixth. The close-range war of attrition had both open-mouthed on occasion to suck in deep draughts of air and with it the fuel of oxygen.
Ryan was in serious trouble in the seventh. Oscar launched a blistering attack with a hard left to the head, followed by a thudding even harder right and a right uppercut which snapped Ryan`s head back. He trudged back to his corner after the bell rang with a leaden gait, bashed… but unabashed.
Clinching in the eighth with heavier Oscar`s forcing Ryan onto the ropes. Ryan appeared tired but magnificently defiant, prudently keeping his gloves held high.
There was more pressure from Oscar in the ninth with a left jab and a right hook jolting Ryan. Rosicki walked through it and waded straight back in in the tenth short but effective left jabs and left to the liver from Oscar. He was then caught with a left-right combination and a peach of right from Ryan, who refused to buckle.
Oscar really tried to finish it in the eleventh. A power-driving left hook, followed by a sweeping right uppercut, had Ryan badly hurt.
But he regrouped and fought on, only to be caught with an only slightly less powerful short corkscrew right to the head.
In the twelfth and final round, Oscar attacked with his rights, but he too was very tired himself and got uncharacteristically pushed to the canvass.
Ryan let his hands go and were caught with a right and again forced onto the ropes.
Willing to try and end matters and snatch it out of the embers in the last few seconds. As he`s done before against Bryant, Oscar swung in the right and a left uppercut.
But Ryan, who was badly gashed on the left brow by these final exchanges, kept fighting until the bell.
Both embraced and held each other`s right arm aloft. It was a much-appreciated show of tremendous heartfelt and respectful sportsmanship.
After the result was announced and his team had fervently hugged him, Oscar allowed himself a broad and dazzling smile.
He initially put the Green and Gold bridgerweight belt around his waist upside down, but Rivas instantly rectified this.
The fans lustily cheered them both, and my goodness, they`d both deserved it! What a brilliant first WBC Bridgerweight Championship spectacular this was.