By Marc Livitz: Oscar “Kaboom” Rivas took over half an hour to really and truly come to life on Friday night at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York. His heavyweight matchup against Bryant “By By” Jennings was comprised of little true action throughout eleven rounds until the opening minute of the last one saw him cut though Jennings like a buzzsaw. Bryant’s long road back after consecutive losses to Wladimir Klitschko (UD 12) and Luis Ortiz (TKO 7) in 2015 hit another wall.
Jennings (24-2, 14 KO’s) fired away with his left jab in the opening round as he used his feet to move around the ring and stay clear of his wide-backed, unbeaten Colombian opponent. Rivas (26-0, 18 KO’s) utilized his own jab as the second was underway and held a high, tight guard. Bryant looked to connect with his left hook around the defensive stance of 31 year old Rivas, who himself tagged Jennings with a quick left hook to the body. Oscar looked to time his Philadelphia foe and found brief success before the bell sounded to end the second round.
The action improved in the third as each man began to open up a bit more. The visual difference, though was that Bryant’s jab wasn’t discouraging Oscar at all, whose jabs and power punches could be seen as well as heard. Rivas remained the sharper of the two, as he’d just fought less than seven weeks prior to Friday night. The fourth essentially followed the same pattern as Jennings was content to look for an opening with his jab, while Rivas patiently stalked him and connected a few times with power shots up high.
Oscar had his moments in the fifth, the highlight of which saw him make Jennings cover up his head as the Colombian threw a few hooks. A right hook to the body in the last minute forced Bryant to drop his left elbow a bit. “By By” Jennings took the fight to Rivas in the first few moments of round six. The 34 year old from Philly wasn’t showing signs of improvement, as he continued to throw single jabs and not much else. Rivas was made to follow him in an a less than thrilling three minute period which brought boo’s from the crowd.
Bryant used his jab more and more in the seventh, which may have prompted Rivas to follow suit, though Jennings finally hooked around the guard of Rivas and landed a head shot. Otherwise, both men appeared to be take the round off. “By By” started off the eighth with much more activity. His jab allowed him to connect with quick fire combinations as Rivas was made to move off of his back foot as he appeared to be tiring.
Bryant Jennings had a good ninth round. His left jab, left hook and straight right found the head of Rivas, whose output wasn’t what it once was. Oscar showed signs of aggression midway through round ten, yet the 2008 Olympian simply wouldn’t follow through after he connected with his lead left. He landed his left in the next period, yet he moved inward and hugged in order to catch his breath.
They touched gloves to begin the twelfth and final round. In an incredible turn, Rivas came out firing bombs and cannons. He landed head shot after head shot to send Jennings into the ropes and eventually to the canvas. Bryant appeared hurt and lost, though he made it to his feet. It wouldn’t make any difference. As soon as referee Gary Rosato moved away to allow the bout to continue, Oscar wasted no time in following the same formula. Consecutive power shots to the head led to Jennings’s head snapping back, which implored Rosato to stop the bout at the :54 mark of round twelve.
The win earned Oscar Rivas NABO International Heavyweight belt to go alongside his IBF and NABF titles. “The truth is my trainer told me that I went through Hell in Bogata. He told me how hard I’d worked and to go out and get it,” said the triumphant Rivas after the contest. “I realized my left hook would set up my right hand and that’s what got me this victory.”
Bryant Jennings remained in good spirts after the third loss of his professional career, yet the second in the same venue. “This place is bad luck, but I’m a man. I’ll hold my head high,” he said. “It is what it is. This is a hard sport. This was just a stepping stone for me. I’m not fazed by this.”