Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Three-Time Boxing Champion Jose Rivera to Resume Boxing Career

Tuesday, January 4th, 2011


WORCESTER —  Saying he doesn't know “how far it'll go,” retired three-time world champion José Antonio Rivera of Worcester says he plans to resurrect his boxing career in March, less than two weeks shy of his 38th birthday.

Rivera, who hasn't fought in 2-1/2 years, first announced his intentions in a story posted last week on RingsideReport.com, a website for which he has written. He confirmed his comeback plans to the T&G on Monday night, saying he's “leaning in that direction.”

“There are some personal things I want to make sure are taken care of first,” Rivera said, confirming that he already has the support of his wife and three children. “I'm putting the old team back together little by little with some changes.”

Plans are for Rivera to fight on March 26 at the Palladium on Main Street, though he admitted it's “not concrete.” His birthday is 12 days later, on April 7.

Why would Rivera, who has a full-time job as a Worcester court officer and a nice part-time associate's gig with the nutritional firm USANA Health Sciences, return to boxing now? Well, he said, it's not for the money or the fame.

“It's definitely not a money thing,” he said, also denying that he got the bug because of his involvement with Mark Wahlberg's just-released movie, “The Fighter,” in which Rivera and his son, A.J., make fleeting appearances.

“I want to have some fun with it and see what I can do at 37,” Rivera added. “My body feels good. … I don't know how far it'll go — we'll see what happens. Right now I'm doing it just because I can.”

After a 16-year pro career spent as a welterweight (147 pounds) and a junior middleweight (154) — winning the WBA title in each weight class, plus the IBO welterweight title — the 5-foot-8 Rivera said he'll make his comeback as a middleweight (160), and plans to work his way back down to junior middleweight.

Rivera said he currently weighs 189. He is in his third week of training at the Camp Get Right gym on Milbrook Street, where he has been a pretty regular workout patron since his retirement. He hasn't picked a trainer yet, although he has spoken about the job with Dan Odamtten, who formerly trained welterweight champion Ike Quartey and now lives in Worcester.

“I'm not making a big deal out of this,” Rivera said. “It's something I'm doing for me, and me only — not because I have to, but because I can.”

Rivera first retired in October 2007 after losing his WBA junior middleweight title to Daniel Santos at Madison Square Garden in New York. He made a brief one-bout comeback 10 months later with an eight-round decision over journeyman Clarence Taylor at the National Guard armory on Lincoln Street.

During that career, in which he posted a record of 39-6-1 with 24 knockouts, Rivera never suffered a serious injury. And he's not worried about that now.

“No, you can't be worried about that if you're boxing,” he said. “If it crosses your mind, don't even bother to go out there.”

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