The WBC yesterday revealed their new weight division was to be named the Bridgerweight division, named after six year old Bridger Walker who recently protected his four year old sister from a dog attack, sustaining injuries to the face and head that required 90 stitches. The division sits between cruiserweight and heavyweight, meaning fighters will have to weigh between 200-224 lbs.
With a broad array of small heavyweights and big cruiserweights potentially in line to challenge for the inaugural belt, here’s three potential bouts that would make perfect sense to kick-start the new division.
Oleksandr Usyk vs Mairis Briedis
Former and current cruiserweight kings Oleksandr Usyk (18-0, 13 KO’s) and Mairis Briedis (27-1, 19 KO’s) have fought once before with Usyk claiming a tight majority decision back in January 2018. Undoubtedly the toughest test of the Ukrainian’s near flawless career, Briedis gave him all he could handle for 12 enthralling rounds, losing his own undefeated record in the process.
Since then the Latvian has rebounded superbly, going 4-0 while claiming the WBO, IBF and Ring cruiserweight titles as well as the World Boxing Super Series tournament, claiming notable wins over Krzysztof Glowacki and Yuniel Dorticos. He has also spoke of his desire to follow in Usyk’s footsteps and move to heavyweight, a task that seems quite tough considering he stands only 6′ 1” with a 75 inch reach.
Usyk has gone from strength to strength since beating Briedis, claiming and defending all four 200 lbs belts in wins over Murat Gassiev and Tony Bellew and successfully navigating his way around two heavyweight bouts with Chazz Witherspoon and Dereck Chisora.
He now finds himself the mandatory challenger for Anthony Joshua’s WBO belt, and with the potential AJ vs Fury fights on the horizon for 2021 may not get that fight for some time, meaning he could be enticed to pick up another world title in the meantime.
Michael Hunter vs Deontay Wilder
Despite his large height and reach Deontay Wilder (42-1-1, 41 KO’s) is actually a small heavyweight, generally stepping into the ring anywhere between 210-230 lbs. Having weighed in as low as 212 lbs as recently as the first Tyson Fury fight, it is all the more impressive the wiry Alabaman has all time great KO power when you consider he is often outweighed by upwards of forty pounds each time he steps into the ring.
With his contract disputes with Tyson Fury looking like he won’t be getting a rematch anytime soon and with little chance Eddie Hearn will throw him a lifeline following his recent comments over the Joshua fiasco, it may be time ‘The Bronze Bomber’ looked elsewhere.
One interesting matchup would be fellow American Michael ‘The Bounty’ Hunter (18-1-1, 12 KO’s) a former cruiserweight world title challenger, Hunter has looked impressive since stepping up to heavyweight with wins over Martin Bakole and Sergey Kuzmin, and can count himself unlucky he wasn’t given the nod against Alexander Povetkin last December in a tight split draw.
Hunter has brilliant boxing fundamentals and moves well, something Wilder has struggled with in the past, and with neither having a fight booked for the distant future, this fight would definitely make sufficient noise to kick off the new division with a bang.
Murat Gassiev vs Alexander Povetkin
Our final fight is an all Russian derby between a young former cruiserweight lion ready to claim his second world title and an old wily veteran who’s still got plenty left in the tank.
Despite taking two years out of the sport following lengthy injury troubles, Murat Gassiev (27-1 1NC, 20 KO’s) returned with a first round KO in his heavyweight debut and at 27 still has his best years ahead of him. The former unified cruiserweight champion has only suffered defeat to Usyk in the World Boxing Super Series final back in 2018, whilst holding notable wins over former world champions Denis Lebedev, Krzysztof Wlodarczyk and Yuniel Dorticos.
Alexander Povetkin’s (36-2-1, 25 KO’s) only two career losses have come at the hands of Wladimir Klitschko and Antony Joshua, and his recent showing against Dillian Whyte highlighted the fact he’s still very much a top five heavyweight, even at the ripe old age of 41.
Standing at only 6′ 2” Povetkin is well within the 224 lbs limit, and with it being unlikely he’ll get another shot at heavyweight gold even after his impressive demolition of Whyte, if the Russian is to fulfil his dreams of claiming another world title, this might be his best/only opportunity to do so.