The WBC bridgerweight championship of the world. Like “Should have gone to Specsavers” or “I’m a lady!”, it’s a punchline that gets less funny each time you hear it. It was conceived as a championship for fighters who were too small to be the heavyweight champion and too big to be the cruiserweight champion. Instead, it appears to be for fighters not good enough to reign at either heavyweight or cruiserweight.
With no disrespect intended to either man, Alen Babic and the man he faces this Saturday, Lukasz Rozanski, fit the bill. It is hard to envisage either man troubling heavyweight bossmen Tyson Fury or Oleksandr Usyk. Equally, top class cruisers like Badou Jack, Jai Opetaia and Lawrence Okolie would be too much for the pair. But a fight doesn’t have to be elite to be exciting and this meeting of C-tier sluggers has all the ingredients.
Put aside the spurious “world title” on the line. None of the other sanctioning bodies recognise bridgerweight as a division and there’s a reason for that. Given they have only managed to stage one world title fight since the title’s inception in 2020, with victor Oscar Rivas going on to vacate the title, the WBC may wish they’d never bothered.
Babic vs Rozanski likely won’t convince anyone of its credentials as a legitimate world championship bout. What it will do is provide riotous entertainment in a way only a piece of great boxing matchmaking can. Babic and Rozanski are not world class technicians, they simply weren’t made that way. What they are is explosive sluggers who are rarely in a bad fight. You want war? You got it.
Babic is used to having a form of home advantage in his fights. Despite residing in his birthplace of Croatia, ‘The Savage’ has boxed in the UK for nine out of his 11 professional bouts. His only experience of fighting outside of Britain as a professional has come in Italy. Therefore a trip to his opponent’s home country of Poland is uncharted territory for the big-punching bridgerweight.
What awaits Babic when he gets there? To put it simply, a fighter with extreme knockout power. Rozanski hasn’t gone the distance since 2015, when he beat journeyman Artsiom Charniakevich via four-round decision. The standard of opposition has been somewhat lacking. The biggest names on his record are a middle-aged Michael Sprott, who retired after their 2018 clash, and former Derek Chisora victim Artur Szpilka. But you can only beat what’s put in front of you and the power-punching Pole has certainly done that.
Power is not exactly a commodity Babic is lacking. With 10 knockouts from 11 fights, ‘The Savage’ can bang. Intriguingly though, there is an element of vulnerability there. In his last bout, Babic was knocked down by Adam Balski. He would rise from the canvas to win a unanimous decision, marking the first and only time he has been the distance. Behind the bravado of another rock-em-sock-em Babic war was the realisation that he was perhaps nearing a ceiling.
If Babic is approaching the glass ceiling, Rozanski will not hesitate to bounce his head off it. Equally, if ‘The Savage’ senses weakness in the Polish hometown hero, we’ve seen that he has the power to expose it. Babic says he’s going to box his way to victory in this one. Rozanski sees it as a bluff and this writer is minded to agree. The way to that big, daft bridgerweight belt for these men is not by tip-toeing aroundd each other, it’s by going straight through.
So forget the belt. The last champion did, which is why we’ve got these two slugging it out. It’s not a world title fight, not really. But it’s a great, fun, fearless war. It’s exactly what boxing needs more of. Two primed and powerful knockout artists with nary a pro defeat between them. Something’s got to give. With Babic and Rozanski in the ring, you’d imagine it’ll be somebody’s chin.
*18+ | BeGambleAware