By: Ste Rowen
On Saturday night the Baltic country of Latvia hosted its first ever world championship fight as the World Boxing Super Series came to town. However, neither the pre-fight hype, nor the electric atmosphere inside Arena Riga could turn this highly anticipated match-up into an exciting fight.
The third quarter final of the Cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series saw WBC World Champion Mairis Briedis step into the ring with former heavyweight contender Mike ‘The Rebel’ Perez, with Oleksandr Usyk awaiting the winner in the semifinals.
The early rounds set the tone for what descended into an ugly scrap. In round one ‘The Rebel’ seemed the busier fighter, throwing more frequently and forcing Mairis onto the backfoot.
Round two was when the Latvian started to lay the groundwork for his own game plan. This time Briedis seemed comfortable on the backfoot, initiating a jab and hold tactic that continued relentlessly throughout the fight. The bout looked like it would set alight in round three as Briedis was cut on his left eye by a head clash, which the referee ruled Perez to be at fault for and docked the Cuban a point. For a brief period, Briedis seemed apprehensive, even causing a second-head clash which seemed to effect Perez more than it did the champion.
From round five however, the Latvian regained his composure and dominated right into the championship rounds. His holding wasn’t pretty but it was a strong enough base to work off as he started to land more frequently. By round nine, and arguably earlier, Mike Perez, 22-2-1 heading into tonight, seemed all out of ideas and was caught by a big right uppercut underneath the chin which, although he seemed to recover quickly, definitely shook him up. Enough for him to incorporate Briedis’ tactics of holding long enough to avoid any further damage.
In round ten Briedis was finally docked a point for persistent holding after much protest and frustration from Perez but by then the Latvian had an air of superiority about him. Perez began to rush forward with no real effect and he needed a knockout going into the final round. It never looked like coming.
There was the question of whether Mike’s power would have the desired effect coming down in weight, but in truth we still don’t know if it can. Briedis frustrated Perez throughout, never taking a clean hit from the Cuban nor veering away from his own game plan. Jab-Hold with the occasional combination flurry or eye-catching shot was enough to see Briedis pick up a clear points win, 116-110, 115-111, 114-112.
It’s hard to watch Briedis, now 23-0-0. Tonight, along with his last outing against Marco Huck to win the WBC title, prove why, but up next is tournament, fan favorite, Usyk. It’s a match-up touted for early 2018 and as well as a place in the WBSS final, Usyk’s WBO and Briedis’ WBC Cruiserweight world titles will be at stake. There’s enough there for us to forget about how tonight played out and salivate over how good the upcoming semifinal should be.
Krzysztof Glowacki v Leonardo Bruzzese
The main undercard bout of the night saw World Boxing Super Series reserve, and former WBO World Cruiserweight world champion Krzysztof Glowacki, 27-1-0 before tonight, ease to a stoppage win over Italian Leonardo Bruzzese (18-3-0).
The Polish southpaw dominated from the first bell, landing almost every time with a perfect left hand. And the domination continued through the second. Bruzese, who had fought all but one of his fights outside of Italy, began to land slightly more but it wasn’t a problem Glowacki couldn’t deal with.
The Pole almost ended it at the end of the second and then again through rounds three and fourth. His punches consistently sending Bruzzese onto the ropes, with only a solid chin keeping Leonardo in the fight. But he was never truly ‘in’ the fight as Glowacki hammered at his opponent with precision, power and most tellingly, ease.
Krzysztof finally landed a punch with the desired effect, firing a left hook in round five which dropped Bruzzesse and then again soon after, forcing the Italian to drop down on both knees as the referee waved the bout off.
Glowacki would’ve been a worthy participant in the World Boxing Super Series with or without tonight’s win but what tonight shows is that he’s a clear number of levels above the fringe fighter status. Let’s hope he’s not called upon but if he is, people would be wise to not overlook him as a world class contender at the 200lb limit.