Richard Rivera takes on Badou Jack on Usyk’s undercard against Joshua 2
Richard Rivera takes on Badou Jack on Oleksandr Usyk’s undercard against Anthony Joshua 2.
On August 20, live from the Jeddah Superdome in Saudi Arabia, the most anticipated rematch in years takes place as unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk (19-0) takes on former champion Anthony Joshua (24- 2). Although US streaming information has not been released, across the pond in the UK the fight will be shown on Sky Sports Box Office.
The card is stacked with some interesting matchups and one that involves Richard “Popeye the Sailor Man” Rivera (21-0) against Badou “The Ripper” Jack (26-3-3). Rivera is unknown to the masses as he has done most of his work on the club circuit under the Star Boxing banner. He has the opportunity to change all that if he beats a guy like Jack, which will move him up the ladder of the light heavyweight rankings.
Rivera, 31, was born and raised in East Hartford, CT. He was brought to a gym called “The San Juan Center” and became fond of boxing as well as various other sports. But like many men and women who take up boxing as a sport, education is usually filled with life’s hurdles that are difficult to overcome. Rivera told FanSided, “We didn’t necessarily grow up rich. We struggled a long time but grew up with great values. My father had a lot of pride and was a tough man. Sometimes he tried to get his point across a little louder than usual. I was the youngest of all my siblings and always felt like I had a lot to prove. I have one of those typical Hartford, Connecticut lifestyles where you have to grow up hard and tough. Nothing will truly be given to you, and you must earn what is yours. And if you say you want to be the best, then you have to prove it.
Oleksandr Usyk v Anthony Joshua 2 will air in the UK on Sky Sports.
Seeing that he had difficulty growing up, the trend continued after he finished high school. Rivera fell into what he called the “wrong ways” trying to make ends meet and figure out what is called life. Rivera considered himself a “moron” who constantly got into trouble. But eventually that lifestyle got old and one day he decided he had had enough and something had to change.
“I remember telling them I was done with drinking, smoking and acting out. They asked me: ‘what are you going to do?’ I told them that I was going to become a boxer and that I took it seriously. I’ve been training my whole life, and it’s been in my family for a long time. It’s something I’m not only good at but also passionate about. It went from there,” Rivera said. After that conversation, Rivera was all about sweet science and was able to participate in around 50 amateur fights that included “smokers”. Although he started late, Rivera did not feel rushed and thought he had good amateur experience.
Then came his debut in January 2017 and Rivera was full of nerves that he called “an emotional slow cooker.” Hearing a fighter’s thoughts on his early days is always interesting as it defines whether boxing is something he sees as a career or for a short time. Rivera told FanSided, “When they called my name and I walked out in the ring, the crowd was roaring. In my Pro Debut, I sold over 250 tickets. I had a good following, and that’s when I realized, ‘wow, people really support me.’ When I heard the crowd screaming, I thought to myself, “Yes, it’s my time” and when it was over, I thought to myself, “Oh no, I still need it. I want this forever.
After shedding the nervousness of his early professional days, Rivera began to make a name for himself, and along the way he took on the persona of Popeye the Sailor Man by entering the ring for fights and doing interviews. It was not by chance, and his story is quite interesting.
Rivera told FanSided, “I remember being in school, my senior year, where I came out of nowhere. I was a very small guy. My brother is 6’8″ and weighs 300 lbs. I was like 5’3”, and it was so bad. Although I was very small, my hands and forearms were huge. One day, my friends were yelling at me, and they were like, ‘That guy looks like Popeye.’ Then at the boxing gym, we were all training, and someone said, ‘you look like Popeye.’ I was like, cool, I can run with this, and from then on people at the gym were calling me Popeye, and it stuck. From there I got a hat (resembling Popeyes), and every fight someone gave me a badge and pins. It’s a name I was given, and I respect it.
Rivera will have to eat all the spinach available to have that Popeye strength in Saudi Arabia, because he has a big task ahead of him with Jack. When it was first announced, many didn’t know who Rivera was, so his promoter, Star Boxing, created the opportunity. Rivera tried to call Jack for the past two years but couldn’t get the fight, so when his promoter came up with the offer he took it, and it was the perfect opportunity. for him, given who Jack is and what he’s done. in his career.
Joe Deguardia, who is the CEO of Star Boxing, had this to say about the fight “Richie (Rivera) has been asking to fight (Badou) Jack for a while now. We are pleased to provide Richie with the fight he wants on one of boxing’s biggest cards this year. A victory against a former world champion can change Richie’s life, and we can’t wait to see him achieve his dreams on August 20 in Saudi Arabia.
While preparing for this fight, Rivera did not need to do anything different apart from his regular training as his preparations for each fight felt like a title fight. “If you look at Badou (Jack), he’s a boxer and I’m an athlete. They say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks, but I’m here to show the new tricks. I’m really excited for this upcoming fight,” said the motivated, light heavyweight contender.
Rivera continued, “I expect nothing less than a seasoned veteran. It has proven itself over and over again. He’s someone who would keep someone like me extremely honest. He is a guy who is not going to let go and who is not going to make the fight easier for me. I’m ready to go out there and take what I deserve. Rivera is not lacking in confidence in this fight and feels like it’s time to shine.
Before boarding the plane headed for the Middle East, Rivera wanted to make sure he left a message for those tuning in on Aug. 20 who knew and didn’t know him. Rivera told FanSided, “I don’t think they (Rivera fans) expect less than what they already know. If they followed me, that’s just the flower that blooms. For those who haven’t seen me before, they’re gonna be in for a treat. I’m about to put on a show, and they’re gonna enjoy it. When they see me on this platform, they’re gonna be like, ‘Who is this guy?’ we need more Popeye!