Boxing’s latest weight division now has its first professional title combat of varieties on the books.
clean off of a fresh rust-shaking win prior this month, Kevin Lerena will now dip his toe into the shallow waters of the realm Boxing Council (WBC) Bridgerweight division. The top of the line cruiserweight from Johannesburg, South Africa will subsequent face Belgium’s Bilal Laggoune for WBC “Silver” Bridgerweight title, to take area March 13 on the famed Emperors Palace in Kempton Park, South Africa.
“It’s on,” Rodney Berman, Lerena’s co-promoter exclaimed in formally saying the experience. “Lerena the primary boxer to contest [for] a WBC [Bridgerweight] title. 13 March, Lerena/Laggoune for the Bridgerweight silver title on the palace of goals to your world champions.”
The newly shaped Bridgerweight division carries a highest weight limit of 224 pounds. The winner of the bout will be named as a precise contender to the still-vacant world title.
Lerena (26-1, 13KOs) has campaigned for most of his profession in the cruiserweight division, the place he has held the overseas Boxing organization (IBO) title given that September 2017. The 28-yr historic southpaw took a smash from cruiserweight in his most contemporary day out, a 5th round stoppage of Patrick Ferguson on December 19 at Emperors Palace where he weighed 211 ¼ pounds.
It looks his next bout will now take region at round that identical mark, as a part of the first-ever sanctioned Bridgerweight battle. Lerena is ranked No. three within the division, which added its first set of rankings previous this month.
Laggoune (25-2-2, 14KOs)—ranked No. 12 at Bridgerweight—has additionally traditionally campaigned within the cruiserweight division. The 28-12 months ancient from Aalst, Belgium is coming off of a 12-round majority resolution defeat to Tommy McCarthy of their EBU cruiserweight title fight this past Halloween at SSE enviornment, Wembley.
The loss snapped a five-fight win streak Laggoune after relocating back up in weight following a quick stint at mild heavyweight, even though fluctuating between heavyweight and cruiserweight from his first few years as a pro. The upcoming clash with Lerena—who has received 15 straight dating back to 2015—will mark Laggoune’s first profession fight outdoor of Europe and 2d straight on the road after having fought solely in Belgium.
Criticism continues to swirl across the formation of the Bridgerweight division, which become first added through legendary matchmaker and boxing historian Don Majeski all the way through the annual WBC convention this past August. In his presentation, Majeski used the WBC’s properly forty heavyweight rankings as proof of fine to be present in rolling out an 18th weight type.
regrettably, right-tier expertise have decline to participate, including former heavyweight titlist Deontay Wilder (forty two-1-1, 41KOs), former World cruiserweight king Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13KOs) and present foremost heavyweight contender Michael Hunter (19-1-1, 13KOs).
“Usyk is without doubt one of the foremost cruiserweights in boxing background,” Mauricio Sulaiman, president of WBC previous informed BoxingScene.com. “we now have now considered him battle twice at heavyweight, together with his dazzling win over Derek Chisora. Usyk is now taking a look at an opportunity to problem (unified heavyweight titlist) Anthony Joshua, for you to generate a lot of money. Usyk is the (WBO heavyweight) obligatory challenger, and we on the WBC most certainly admire his resolution to pursue and attain that intention of profitable the heavyweight title below these conditions.
“Deontay Wilder has his mind made as much as pursue (a third battle) with our WBC world heavyweight champion Tyson Fury. So, however Deontay Wilder and Oleksandr Usyk can both fight at Bridgerweight, we don’t see them making this sort of plans at the moment (and for this reason won’t be ranked).”
From there got here the first set of rankings, mostly constrained to folks that’ve expressed a participatory interest. The latest No. 1 Bridgerweight contender is Oscar Rivas, a 33-yr old heavyweight contender from Montreal by the use of Colombia whom he represented in the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Rivas’ inclusion changed into met with sharp criticism, having not weighed 224 pounds or lighter on account that his second seasoned combat, nor any lighter than 228 ¼ pounds in the past ten years. In his most contemporary delivery, Rivas weighed 239 ¼ pounds in a tightly contested features loss to Dillian Whyte remaining July in London. regardless of this, the as soon as-crushed heavyweight contender has guaranteed the WBC of his commitment to as a minimum entertain the concept of competing on the weight.
For now, the Bridgerweight division remains between the 200-pound cruiserweight limit and the unlimited heavyweight division, which the WBC now classifies as anybody weighing above 224-kilos. A greater radical shift—though most likely purposeful, if universally embraced—requires the Mexico metropolis-headquartered sanctioning body to lower the cruiserweight limit to one hundred ninety pounds, the fashioned limit when first delivered as the Junior Heavyweight division more than 40 years ago. The limit changed into raised to 200 kilos in 2003.
The division is termed after Bridger Walker, a six-yr ancient boy from Wyoming who become universally celebrated for his act of heroism in rescuing his four-12 months old sister from being attacked by using a one-year old German shepherd this past July. Walker was then attacked by way of the dog, who latched onto the boy’s cheek leaving a deep scar which required greater than 90 stitches right through a two-hour emergency surgical procedure.
Walker’s act changed into lauded global, though the WBC’s try and honor his efforts hasn’t yet warmed over boxing’s frigid and traditionally bitter fanbase. Time will tell whether the division’s first sanctioned bout will assist damage the ice.
Jake Donovan is a senior author for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox