Oscar Rivas defeated Ryan Rozicki on Friday in Montreal to become the inaugural WBC bridgerweight champion.
Rivas, 222 1/4 pounds, dished out punishment on the undersized Rozicki over 12 rounds en route to the unanimous decision victory via scores of 116-111, 115-112 and 115-112.
Rozicki, 203 pounds, applied pressure and sought to work on the inside but was repeatedly countered and outworked on the inside by the more experienced fighter.
The 224-pound weight class was introduced by WBC president Mauricio Sulaiman last year as a division that sits between cruiserweight and heavyweight.
The WBC now has 18 divisions, the most in boxing; so far, the other three major sanctioning bodies haven’t adopted the bridgerweight division.
Rivas (28-1, 19 KOs) was originally set to fight Bryant Jennings, whom he defeated via 11th-round TKO in a January 2019 heavyweight fight. However, Jennings couldn’t enter Canada because he’s unvaccinated and was forced to withdraw.
Since that win over Jennings, Rivas has competed just twice, most notably a July 2019 points loss to heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte.
The 34-year-old Colombian now resides in Montreal and enjoyed the hometown advantage over Rozicki, a fellow Canadian from Nova Scotia.
Rozicki (13-1, 13 KOs) has competed at cruiserweight his entire career. He and Rivas both fought the same opponent in their previous outings: journeyman Sylvera Louis.
The 26-year-old Rozicki had never faced an opponent of note before Rivas.