Michel Rivera doesn’t plan to make a habit of fighting well above his optimal weight.
The 22-year old lightweight prospect accepted a short-notice opportunity at welterweight, looking impressive in an 8th round stoppage of Anthony Mercado. Their fight aired live last month on FS1, taking place at a 146-pound catchweight and with Rivera checking in at a career-heavy 144 ½ pounds for the occasion.
“I felt good considering it was eight days’ notice and two weight classes above my [normal] weight division,” Rivera told BoxingScene.com following his nationally televised win. “But I am definitely sticking to 135 or 140, no heavier than that from now on.”
Rivera (20-0, 13KOs) had previously never weighed heavier than 137 for a pro fight and has primarily campaigned as a lightweight. The unbeaten Dominican boxer—who now lives and trains in Miami—actually gave away nearly four pounds to an overweight Ladarius Miller, who missed weight by more than three pounds ahead of their 10-round clash last Halloween. Rivera claimed a 10-round decision win prior to the cameras rolling for the Showtime Pay-Per-View event headlined by Gervonta Davis’ 6th round knockout of Leo Santa Cruz at Alamodome in San Antonio.
There was an opportunity for Rivera to face former four-division titlist Adrien Broner, with the fight to have taken place on Feb. 20 atop a Showtime tripleheader from Mohegan Sun Arena in Uncasville, Connecticut. Rivera became the opponent of choice after Mexico’s Pedro Campa tested positive for COVID-19. However, Rivera’s team—including promoter Sampson Lewkowicz and head trainer German Caicedo—insisted on a hard weight limit of 140 pounds in place, along with penalties if either fighter were to miss weight.
Representatives for Broner—who hadn’t fought in more than two years—rejected the idea, instead settling on Puerto Rico’s Jovanie Santiago. The bout ultimately took place at welterweight, with the contracted weight changing from 140 pounds during fight week. Broner went on to claim a disputed 12-round decision win over the previously unbeaten Santiago.
“Broner knew exactly what he was doing not wanting to fight me,” insists Rivera. “It would’ve been another defeat for him. It’s a shame it didn’t happen.
“But I will make myself known this year. I believe I’m ready for anything and anybody at 135 or 140 (pounds) in 2021.”
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox