Perennial contender Bryant Jennings can say “By-By” to a shot at the world heavyweight title after getting knocked out by unheralded Oscar Rivas on Friday night. Headlining in Verona, New York, live on ESPN across the United States, Jennings was supposed to beat his untested opponent. Top Rank was looking to slide Jennings into another big payday; he had failed in a commendable 2015 effort against Wladimir Klitschko. Later that year the former firefighter was outboxed and beaten up by Cuban southpaw Luis Ortiz. Jennings, 34, is a decent boxer, without earth-shattering power, who has been carefully rebuilt against competent contenders with high rankings.
Canada-based Colombian Oscar Rivas turned out to be a step too far. The visitor arrived with 25 victories, no losses, 18 wins by knockout. Despite the visibly appealing statistics Rivas had fought nobody of note. Mostly he had blasted out an assortment of tomato cans early on, earning the nickname “Kaboom” in the process.
Jennings used his considerable reach advantage to box from the outside, using Rivas’ lack of head movement against him in the opening rounds. Oscar was closing the distance as the sessions progressed. His trainer Marc Ramsey was becoming exasperated before the 11th; imploring his man to step up and seize the opportunity. As it turned out Rivas was leading on two of the scorecards, and behind on the third. Leaving nothing to chance he knuckled down and went for broke in the 12th round. Tired out, with nothing left to offer, Jennings folded like a fresh piece of A4 paper once the pace intensified. Rivas slugged away with both hands, dropping the favourite and refusing to allow him any recovery time. Gary Rosato called it off at 0-54 with no complaint from Jennings or his corner team.
Featherweight prospect Shakur Stevenson improved his record to 10-0 with a fourth-round KO of Filipino Jessie Cris Rosales. Sporting an aesthetically pleasing record, Rosales had been out of the ring for almost a year so was arriving at a nice time for Stevenson. The 21-year-old Newark southpaw was starting to beat up Rosales by the second round. Face reddened, body broken down over every three-minute stanza; there was no ounce of joy for Rosales who effectively bailed after a heavy left hand in the fourth. Stevenson is clearly improving with every fight.