In one of the most eagerly awaited cruiserweight meetings for quite some time former two-time world champion Mairis Briedis faces IBF champion Yuniel Dorticos at The Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia on Saturday 21st March in the season 2 finale of the WBSS cruiserweights. The fight will be streamed in the USA on DAZN and shown in the UK by Sky Sports.
It must have felt at times to those involved that this fight would never happen. In Briedis’s semi-final against WBO titlist Krzysztof Glowacki in June 2019 the Latvian seemed lucky to have escaped disqualification after a blatant elbow to the jaw of the Polish champion in round 2. Referee Robert Byrd decided to let the contest to continue and Briedis went on to score a 3rd round Tko victory.
In fairness to Briedis, Glowacki had just landed heavily to the back of his head and the elbow appeared to be a reactive form of retaliation, but referee Byrd would have been in his rights to throw Briedis out. A complaint to the WBO from Team Glowacki resulted in a rematch being ordered, however, because Briedis was under contract to fight the WBSS final he was stripped of the title.
When Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev contested the first WBSS cruiserweights final in July 2018 we knew we were watching the two best 200lb fighters in the world and I think once again we will see the best fighting the best with Briedis and Dorticos.
Dorticos is a 33-year-old Cuban living in Miami. He has a 24-1-0 record with 22 Ko’s. His sole loss was to Gassiev in the WBSS semi-final in 2018. Gassiev knocked Dorticos out in the dying seconds of the 12th and final round of a close and competitive fight.
Briedis is 35-years-old and has won 26 fights and lost 1, winning 19 by Ko. The loss was to Usyk in the WBSS semi-final and he has some big wins on his ledger, none more Interesting than his 2015 fifth round Ko of the current WBA regular heavyweight champion Manuel Charr. The uppercut that knocked Charr out cold was as good as you will ever see.
These two are so well matched it is difficult to find an obvious winner. Both are very big punchers and have big fight experience. Briedis has the bigger name wins on his record but Dorticos has the better Ko percentage. Briedis is 3 years older and may have a little more wear and tear but will home advantage give him that big edge?
One thing is for sure, and that is that we are in for some big-hitting action. Both fighters like to go for the big win and both are nearing the end of their respective careers so there is a nothing to lose feeling to their approach to this fight.
Prediction: Briedis to win by stoppage around the halfway stage.