Former heavyweight title challenger Bryant Jennings had a golden opportunity to become the first “bridgerweight” champion in WBC history, but he has backed out over COVID-19 vaccination requirements.
Before we get to the main story, the WBC (and only the WBC) decided to introduce the bridgerweight division in between cruiserweight (200 lbs) and heavyweight (unlimited), with a maximum limit of 224 lbs. Is this all just another way to collect sanctioning fees off of world titles? Yes, obviously. We’ll save that rant for another day.
Anyway, Jennings was supposed to fight Oscar Rivas for the inaugural title on October 22nd. These two had previously fought for minor heavyweight belts in New York back in 2019, with Rivas getting a 12th round TKO victory. The rematch was set to happen in Quebec, Rivas’ adopted home in Canada. As of September, Quebec has a COVID-19 vaccine passport system, and non-residents who want to participate in events that require the passport must have the following:
- Valid photo ID with an address outside Québec
- Official proof of vaccination against COVID-19 issued by their country or province in Canada
Rivas’ promoter, Yvon Michel, revealed earlier this week that Jennings won’t get vaccinated and won’t even comply with Canada’s quarantine rules as a non-vaccinated person.
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 (@yvonmichelGYM) September 27, 2021
Jennings is adamant that he didn’t violate the agreements of his contract — he underlined that “Team Jennings must follow the Quebec Public Health requirements in application at the period of the event”, but he sure as hell isn’t down with requirements in the first place.
Unethical requirements is not my twist.— B.Y (@BYJennings) September 27, 2021
Me getting the vaccine was never in the plans never in the contract! The contract stated at whatever time I'll agree to the Quebec public health requirements. But you just can't up and make requirements as such and think that this is still gonna happen.— B.Y (@BYJennings) September 27, 2021
Quebec’s vaccine passport plans have been in the works since July and indoor combat sports was included among the list of activities that required vaccination.
He also complained about the quarantine rules, which he’d otherwise be exempt from if, you know, he was fully vaccinated by now.
14 days quarantine no trainer, no gym, no running, no last week of sparring, no sunlight, whatever food available, and I don't get out of quarantine until the 21st which is the day of the weigh in. How can that work for a world class fighter fighting 12 rounds!— B.Y (@BYJennings) September 28, 2021
A quick Twitter search gives away that Jennings is extremely against the vaccine and there is no evidence he can be persuaded towards sensible thinking that would make him get the vaccine.
Rivas’ team has found a replacement opponent, reportedly Jerry Forrest, whose last fight saw him rally from three knockdowns to get a draw vs. Zhang Zhilei. As long as Forrest is fully vaccinated and can travel to Canada, the title shot is his.