By Mauricio Sulaimán / Son of José Sulaimán / President of the WBC
Last Friday, the inaugural WBC Bridger World Championship took place in Montreal, Canada, a division recently created by our World Boxing Council, within the range of 200 to 224 pounds.
It was a memorable battle between Óscar Rivas, from Colombia, and Canadian Ryan Rozicki, with Oscar emerging victorious.
Fighting toe to toe with an enormous amount of punches landed by both contenders, who sought victory from the starting bell to bell until the last second of the 12th round.
Rivas imposed his power and got a clear, but at the same time, close and competitive decision. The last rounds were dramatic, the physical condition was noticeable and at one point it seemed like either one could go down. Rozicki made himself known to the world, distinguished himself, and we will surely be hearing from him in the non-too distant future.
Óscar Rivas, a Colombian living in Montreal, became the first monarch of the Bridger division; a worthy champion. Colombia and Canada celebrate the arrival of a new idol.
The Bridgerweight division has a lot of history behind it. The natural evolution of the human being has changed the conditions of our sport.
The categories or divisions in boxing were created to ensure fair conditions for the fighters, setting weight limits and thus avoiding uneven fights in terms of physical size. Originally there were eight categories: fly, bantam, feather, light, welterweight, middle, light heavy and heavy.
Eventually more divisions were added, recognizing the great complications and disadvantages that such a marked difference in weight generated among many contestants.
There were some fighters who inhumanly sacrificed themselves to continue attaining the weight in a division in which their body simply could no longer hold up, and also those who gave away too much advantage by going up to another division in which their rivals were stronger and more solid.
The World Boxing Council has been the great pioneer of implementing the intermediate divisions in this sport and eventually they were the following: super fly, super bantamweight, super featherweight, super lightweight, super welterweight and super middle.
Divisions were also created to give opportunities to so many small boxers, below the flyweight division, and the WBC created the light flyweight and straw-weight categories.
In 1909, the heavyweight world champion weighed 168 pounds. In a century, the human being has grown, evolved, and has become stronger with athletes becoming much more powerful now. This phenomenon was meticulously studied by the WBC, and it was decided to create a new division to address fighters who had endured great disadvantages. Thus, the light heavyweight division had the limit of 175 pounds, and from there, we had the heavyweight division, with no weight limit.
In 1978 at the convention in Reno, Nevada, our body created the cruiserweight division, which ranged from 175 to 190 pounds. 12 years ago, recognizing the same phenomenon of athlete growth, we moved the limit from 190 to 200 pounds; from there, then, we got the heavyweight division.
Today, the WBC heavyweight world champion is Britain’s Tyson Fury, weighing in at 280 pounds.
Last year, continuing the work that the WBC has done over the years, a division was created to include those fighters who are literally small heavyweights, and created a new division between 200 and 224 pounds. This was named Bridger.
THE CURRENT DIVISIONS
· Heavy: Starting at 224, however fighters may weigh less and be eligible to fight for the title.
· Bridger: Up to 224 pounds (101 kg).
· Cruiser: Up to 200 pounds (90,892 kg).
· Light Heavy: Up to 175 lbs. (79,378 kg).
· Super Middle: Up to 168 pounds (76,203 kg).
· Middle: Up to 160 lbs. (72,574 kg).
· Super Welter: Up to 154 pounds (69,853 kg).
· Welterweight: Up to 147 pounds (66,678 kg).
· Super Light: Up to 140 pounds (63,503 kg).
· Lightweight: Up to 135 pounds (61,235 kg).
· Super Feather: Up to 130 lbs. (58,967 kg).
· Feather: Up to 126 lbs. (57,153 kg).
· Super Bantamweight: Up to 122 pounds (55,225 kg).
· Bantam: Up to 118 pounds (53,525 kg).
· Super Fly: Up to 115 pounds (52,163 kg).
· Fly: Up to 112 pounds (50,802 kg).
· Light Fly: Up to 108 pounds (48,988 kg).
· Straw: Up to 105 pounds (47,627 kg).
DID YOU KNOW…?
During the COVID-19 pandemic there was an event that made news worldwide.
A six-year-old boy saved his four-year-old sister from the attack of a wild dog. The boy got in when the attack occurred and his words captivated the whole world: “If someone had to die, it was me and not my little sister.”
This happened in Colorado, USA, and the hero is named Bridger Walker. The WBC sent him a world champion belt and named him: “The bravest man in the world.”
During the convention held in 2020, which was done virtually, the creation of the new division was formalized, and with the inspiration of this heroic act, it was called Bridger weight.
The top priority of my dad, Jose Sulaiman, was always to find ways to make boxing safer for fighters, more humane, and to minimize the risks they have before going into the ring.
Rules were changed or instituted during his glorious and historic 38-year duration as WBC President.
I remember the first time I heard a story that shocked me; We were having breakfast at Sanborns Lindavista, and my dad told something that happened to Púas Olivares.
“Poor Puas, he was struggling a lot to make weight; Before, the weigh-in was the day of the fight and he had been eating lettuce for a week and only one glass of water a day.
“Well, the night before the fight, not being able to sleep and being totally affected by dehydration, he got out of bed and drank a whole jug of water without stopping. The next day he was three kilos over the division, he had to undergo inhumane strictures to lose weight. They wrapped him in rubber, they dressed him with three sets of clothes and they left him inside a car under the sun of Mexicali for a broiling, searing twenty minutes.”
That was a demonstration of the urgent need to create intermediate divisions.
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