Mairis Briedis: The Unluckiest Man in Boxing
By: Shane Willoughby
Mairis Briedis by many is seen as the number 1 fighter in the cruiserweight division. The former WBC champion has an amazing professional record with 26 wins and a single split decision loss to former undisputed champion Oleksandr Usyk.
At first sight, it may seem as if his resume is far from but, but when you look at some of the names he has defeated it becomes apparent that he is a top fighter. Marco Huck, Manuel Charr, Mike Perez and a controversial knock out over Glowacki, are good names to have on anyone’s resume.
With all that said, Briedis has always been a forgotten entity in the sport by most fans, but now he has become invisible to the governing bodies. This time last year Briedis was on the verge of becoming a unified champion. Less than 9 months later he has zero belts despite the fact that he hasn’t lost.
The WBSS have done tremendous things in boxing and I’m pretty sure they have paid Briedis some heavy purses. However, In my humble opinion, his affiliation with the series has done him a massive disservice in terms of his legacy.
Briedis was the WBC champion and is now the WBC diamond champion, and has been since 2018. The WBC title was vacant for over a year. Any normal organization would have just awarded Briedis the title or given him the opportunity to fight for it.
Instead, the WBC withdrew their title from the WBSS semi-final, which meant when Briedis beat Glowacki he wasn’t about to regain the title he lost the year before. In the WBC’s defence, they had good grounds to withdraw the belt, as the refereeing was more than questionable for that fight.
However, at the time there appeared to be a silver lining, because whilst he wasn’t the WBC champion he did take Glowacki’s WBO belt. However, it was just another chance for the sport to forsake Briedis. Four months later the WBO ordered Briedis to rematch Glowacki despite the fact that they knew he was contractually obligated to the WBSS.
Unfortunately, this meant that Briedis lost his one and only world title. But at least amongst the hardcore boxing fans, Briedis was still considered as the WBC cruiserweight. He has the diamond belt and he theoretically won the WBC title in the semi-final.
Anyone with Common sense will think after all of that, the governing bodies can’t abandon him again. So the WBSS final between Briedis and Dorticos is the perfect opportunity to make a unification and finally award someone the title after almost 2 years of being vacant.
Nope, Ilunga Makabu is now the WBC cruiserweight title after defeating Michal Cieslak. It will take 1,000 years to understand the logic behind that decision. And none of us should be surprised; the only thing consistent about boxing rules is its unpredictability.
To say the Latvian has been dealt a bad hand is an understatement. His last 12 months have been nothing but a mess around. So for the Briedis fans out there, if he does defeat Dorticos in what will be an amazing triumph, don’t celebrate too soon. Expect the IBF to order him to fight Anthony Joshua to keep their belt.
WBSS Preview: Oleksandr Usyk v Mairis Briedis
By: Ste Rowen
The World Boxing Super Series gets back underway on the 27th January as Latvia holds host to the first semi-final between WBC champion Mairis Briedis, 23-0 (18KOs) and WBO champion Olesksandr Usyk 13-0 (11KOs).
It will be Riga-born Mairis Briedis’ second consecutive fight in his home city after he dominated Mike Perez to a unanimous decision in his quarter final back in September.
Despite the awkward way the Perez fight played out, speaking at the first face-off between the two fighters, Briedis seemed confident that the bout would match up with the raucous atmosphere expected in Arena Riga,
‘It is one of my dreams as a fighter to be part of one of the greatest fights of all time. I hope this fight will be a hall of fame fight. It has all the ingredients to become a classic.’
On the raised stakes with each fight he’s a part of, Mairis replied,
‘I don’t think of anything outside of boxing so right now I’m doing my job… When the fight is done we will talk about other stuff that is not pure boxing.’
The enigmatic Usyk was in confident mood as always. It will be the Ukrainian’s 5th consecutive fight away from his home country and his 4th title defence since defeating then unbeaten Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland back in 2016.
‘There wasn’t an arena suitable to host this event in Ukraine but that’s not a problem… This is a unification bout; two world champions are facing each other so it doesn’t matter where the fight is taking place, it could even be on the moon. The most important thing is what’s happening in the ring.’
Asked about his travelling support, the WBO champion said,
‘Who knows? There is definitely interest in Ukraine and there is always fans when I am fighting abroad… 50/50 split.’
The 2012 Olympic gold medallist progressed to the semi-finals courtesy of a 10th round stoppage of Marco Huck. It was a particularly impressive victory coming off the back of two laboured wins over American, Michael Hunter and fellow southpaw, Thabiso Mchunu.
The second semi-final between Murat ‘Iron’ Gassiev and Yunier ‘The KO Doctor’ Dorticos takes place in Sochi, Russia a week later. All four remaining fighters go into the semi-finals unbeaten with a combined record of 83-0 (68KOs).
Reminder: If any of the fights are scored a draw across the three judges, a fourth judge will be called into play to settle who progresses to the much anticipated final, set to take place in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia in May this year.
The World Boxing Super Series Begins
The World Boxing Super Series Begins
By: Matthew N. Becher
Over the past weekend, the newly created World Boxing Super Series held its very first draft, for its very first tournament. The premise of the new tournament is an open competition for any professional boxer that is ranked in the top 15 of the major sanctioning bodies systems.
In theory the best fighters would face off against one another, until the last man was standing, thus making him the #1 boxer in that weight class. Simple. That is the easy part, the hard part is getting the best fighters to all participate in such a tournament, with everyone having different promoters and so forth. Fortunately, it seems to have worked out for the initial Cruiserweight Tournament.
The seeding of the tournament went as follows. The top 4 fighters were ranked 1-4 by the WBSS, with the four belt holders getting the top rankings.
1: Oleksander Usyk (WBO)
2: Murat Gassiev (IBF)
3: Mairis Briedis (WBC)
4: Yunier Dorticos (WBA)
Then from 1-4, the fighter was allowed to pick or draft his opponent from a group of 4 boxers, for their first round fight. (An exception was made for Gassiev, who had a mandatory against Krzysztof Wlodarczyk. That fight was picked for him)
The first round of the tournament looks like this.
Oleksander Usyk (12-0 10KO) v. Marco Huck (40-4-1 27KO)
Murat Gassiev (24-0 17KO) v. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk (53-3-1 37KO)
Mairis Briedis (22-0 18KO) v. Mike Perez (22-2-1 14KO)
Yunier Dorticos (21-0 20KO) v. Dmitry Kudryashov (21-1 21KO)
Literally the best of the best in the Cruiserweight division will be competing against each other, until one is standing with all the belts, the inaugural Muhammad Ali Trophy and possibly a $1 million dollar bonus for advancing though semifinals and the championship round.
The tournament is slated to begin in early September and rap up by Mary of next year. The location of the fights have yet to be determined and will be placed in locations that match up well for each fight.
“To unify a division and spotlight a division that has clearly been underappreciated, even though the fights in the ring are always among the most exciting in the sport, irrespective of the division, that those four champions, if you look at the record – they are all undefeated. Most of their wins, the vast majority have come by knockout. So these are all big punchers, undefeated. I’m really excited,” said Richard Schaefer, the Chairman of the Americas for Comosa, who helped put this field together alongside fellow promoter Kalle Sauerland (the Chief Boxing Officer for Comosa).
This is a very exciting tournament for boxing and especially for the roll out of the new World Boxing Super Series. With formats like this, expect many division to start falling in line and possibly getting to see the best match up against the best in the near future.