Oscar Rivas: champion… and not a penny
The small world of Quebec boxing is in turmoil. Is Oscar Rivas retired or not? His eye injury, at least the twelfth of his career, will prevent him from getting back in the ring to hope to earn enough to feed his family, or is it better that he hangs on his gloves ?
In 2013, promoter Yvon Michel had advised Oscar Rivas to retire, when he had in front of him Jean Pascal, Adonis Stevenson, Eleider Alvarez and Artur Beterbiev who had just started his professional career.
Because of the danger his injured eye posed. In 2022, soon in 2023, and 12 injuries to the same eye later, Yvon Michel seems to be fighting to encourage Rivas to get back in the ring.
Undoubtedly times and surroundings have changed.
Matter of life and sight
I have never insisted on an athlete retiring. I always thought that the athlete had to make his own decisions. But in the case of Oscar Rivas, it’s different.
Rivas is still world champion. But “thanks” to the advice of its promoter and manager, Stéphane Lépine, it does not have a cursed penny.
Rivas hasn’t fought since October 2021.
And even though it was a WBC world championship fight, it was happening at the Olympia, without American television. Rivas had received only a modest scholarship.
Before, he had only had a good year, in 2019. After settling accounts with his manager and paying around a third of his earnings to his promoter and 10% to his trainer, after tax paid, he had no money left in the bank account.
We are faced with an abominable absurdity.
I weigh all my words because I don’t want to hurt the pride and self-esteem of these two men.
But we find ourselves in Montreal with two world champions who live in a three and a half and who are broken like nails at the end of their careers. Eleider Alvarez and Oscar Rivas.
These two Olympians came from Colombia. They settled in Quebec. They learned French and integrated.
But soon, despite their great athletic qualities, they found themselves forced to eat at Coin du métro, where the owner served them solid meals.
Eleider Alvarez thrashed Lucian Bute, washed out Jean Pascal and knocked out Sergey Kovalev. He was world champion.
But before becoming world champion, he dried up for three years, stuck behind Adonis Stevenson.
The promoter did not want to lose his world champion and the manager became his accomplice instead of defending the interests of his boxer. Never Eleider Alvarez received the sums of money promised to settle down when he was compulsory aspirant.
Even a clause in his fight against Jean Pascal guaranteed him a title fight against Stevenson. We laughed in his face.
It was very lucky that Marcus Browne got arrested with a gun in his car and Kathy Duva had to turn to Alvarez as a backup to face Kovalev. Otherwise, he would probably still wait in his three and a half.
Their responsibility… and that of others
Both Oscar Rivas and Eleider Alvarez – immigrants to Quebec – trusted a promoter and a manager.
If they find themselves with nothing three days before New Year’s Day, they must bear some responsibility.
But two young Colombians who only spoke Spanish when they arrived could only trust those who employed and advised them.
In fact, the only one who seemed to fight to protect them was Marc Ramsay.
And by the way, it’s been 14 months since Ramsay welcomed Oscar Rivas into his gym and offered him the best training services for less than peanuts. If Rivas hangs up his gloves, Marc Ramsay and his entire team will have worked “voluntarily”.
And you want to know? If it weren’t for Ramsay, Rivas would put his eye condition well before a boxing match.
It is a shameful situation.
I specify, it is the situation which is shameful, not the career and the life of the two men.
Both have been world champions, both have private lives like many others. Stories of love, family, children and financial responsibilities to ensure.
They had a brilliant career, but they didn’t always get the fights they wanted or the money they could have made.
And who provided them with the guidance they would have needed?
How come David Lemieux has three houses? That Steven Butler, who was literally taken off the street, owns Repentigny? That Simon Kean has his condo? That Erik Bazinyan, who had the pain of losing his father, lives with his family in his residence?
Why did Lucian Bute with Jean Bédard, of InterBox, retire rich? Why did Jean Pascal, who took charge of his own negotiations, have at least a dozen fights over a million?
What’s the management doing?
In addition, too many boxers are renegotiated at a discount on the morning of the weigh-in. The veterans of the Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux (RACJ) are aware, but their hands are tied.
The boxer was supposed to fight for $6,000, he was told that ticket sales were worse than expected, and he got in the ring for $3,500.
Hungry, dehydrated, with training fees to reimburse, the poor guy signed on the cheap. He gets stuffed.
This Régie had been founded to protect boxers and the public.
There were 40 people from the organization occupying the seats ringside in Shawinigan. including several spouses.
Me Denis Dolbec is the president. Fortunately, he gives indications that he wants things to progress. It’s more than time.
IN THE NOTEBOOK
That said, happy new year to Quebecers, Canadians and all those who read this column in the world.