The July 20th O2 Arena bill main event has now been announced as WBC No1 heavyweight contender Dillian Whyte vs Canadian based Columbian Oscar Rivas. The general response from the media and fans has been positive. Is Rivas the best available opponent for the high flying Brixton Man?
Earlier in the year, I questioned whether Oscar Rivas would be an acceptable opponent for Tyson Fury's June fight and my answer was no. I felt and still do that fans paying PPV fees deserve to see the big 3 heavyweights (Joshua, Fury and Wilder) in fights with either each other or the next level contenders such as Povetkin, Ortiz, Pulev and Parker.
Seeing as what we got from Top Rank and ESPN was the Fury vs Schwarz matchup I now wish Rivas had been given the assignment. Rivas 12th round stoppage of Bryant Jennings in January earned him the right to a big-name bout, whereas Schwarz has beaten nobody in anyone's top 15.
Whyte and Rivas should be a good headline fight. This is a mark time fight for Whyte as he waits for a shot at one of the title holders, but at the same time, Rivas has shown in the win over Jennings that he can be a dangerous proposition.
The former Olympian said after learning that the fight was signed and sealed: "I have waited for this opportunity for a very long time," said Rivas. "Dillian Whyte is an excellent boxer, a world-class fighter and the number one contender. He deserves all my respect for his accomplishments and I am grateful for the opportunity he is giving me.
"This is exactly the kind of challenge I was hoping to get. I am undefeated, I am planning to keep my perfect record after July 20 in my quest to get the ultimate opportunity to become world champion."
The 31-year-old Columbian is neat and tidy with a high held guard. He has good footwork and applies steady pressure behind a rapier-like jab. When he gets in close, Rivas is quick to let his hooks go to the body and head.
Whyte's training team, led by Mark Tibbs will have seen that the Columbian leaves himself open to body shots due to his high guard and that he has a tendency to square his upper body which leaves openings for uppercuts.
Rivas is an all-action fighter, he is good to watch, well-conditioned and deserves his chance on the big stage. At 6ft he is short for the heavyweight division but makes good use of his lack of height by getting low when coming into range of his opposition.
In the Jennings fight Rivas fought at a high work rate for the first 6 rounds but then as the pace slowed he became more upright, staying just outside the range of Jennings jab, this allowed Jennings to pick his shots and got him back into the fight.
With Whyte's size and single-shot punch power, Rivas will be facing a much tougher proposition than he did against the 34-year-old Philadelphia native. If Whyte establishes his heavy jab early in the fight then I can see Rivas struggling to stay with Whyte after 6 rounds.
Dillian Whyte is fast becoming as popular with British fight fans as his rival and WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. If he keeps facing quality opposition each and every time he fights he will soon win over a much wider audience.