Bryant Jennings is standing by his beliefs, even at the cost of missing out on a title shot and a chance for revenge.
Oscar Rivas will have to prepare for a new opponent for the inaugural World Boxing Council (WBC) bridgerweight title fight still due to take place October 22 at L’Olympia in Montreal, Canada. The show will go on without Philadelphia’s Jennings, who is being forced out of the show due to failure to comply with Canada's quarantine policy for visitors not who have not received the Covid-19 vaccination.
“Team Jennings informed us this weekend that Bryant refused to get vaccinated as well as refused Canada's rule of admission for non-vaccinated travelers, even though it was clear in the contract it was necessary,” Yvon Michel, Rivas’ promoter announced Sunday evening. “We already found a replacement, a ranked fighter from WBC’s bridgerweight division.
“Oscar Rivas will fight for the vacant WBC bridgerweight title on October 22nd at Olympia de Montreal. More details will come this week.”
The bout was to have been a rematch from their January 2019 heavyweight clash, with Rivas (27-1, 19KOs) winning by 12th round stoppage in Verona, New York.
Rivas—a 2008 Olympian for Colombia who is now based out of Montreal—has fought just twice since then, suffering a 12-round unanimous decision defeat to Dillian Whyte in July 2019 and returning with a rust-shaking 3rd round knockout of overmatched Syvera Louis this past March. Rivas weighed 221 ¾ pounds for the fight, the lightest weight of his 12-year career and within the 224-pound bridgerweight division.
Jennings (24-4, 14KOs) has not fought since a 12-round loss to Joe Joyce in July 2019, one week prior to Rivas-Whyte. It was the second straight defeat for Jennings, who was eager to return in hopes of avenging at least one career defeat. However, his own stance against forced vaccination and reluctance to submit to Canada’s mandatory 14-day quarantine policy will now leave him without a fight that has already suffered two postponements.
“Unethical requirements is not my twist,” Jennings noted via social media over the weekend. “With all of these current discrepancies why would I! I mean why would I anyway! If anybody can get Covid even the vaccinated, why should I have to quarantine for 14 days.
“Why not take a test prior to arrival and upon arrival take another test quarantine ‘til results clear and take one more test. What would make me different than the vaccinated at that point?”
The WBC has yet to institute a policy where boxers are required to be vaccinated, although it is a requirement for all of its ring officials and ringside supervisors. However, Canada has enforced such a policy long before the rescheduled October 22 date, which leaves Jennings without wiggle room even if he has support from those who oppose such mandates.
“So my only option to participate as [an] unvaccinated professional combat sport (boxer) can’t be to quarantine in a hotel room [two weeks] prior to a fight,” notes Jennings. “Proper training and preparation is impossible. I'll be the 1st fighter that had to back out of a title fight due to being unvaccinated.
“They tryna figure out why I'm willing to turn down six figures for something I believe in. That's cus I ain't weak.
[T]he fight can't happen in Canada then it has to happen in a place where it can. But I ain't backing out! Two cancellations and now this sh!t. I've been on this particular mission since April. Finding a replacement is not an option.”
Unfortunately for Jennings, it will likely become the next option as it relates to this matter.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox