Ukraine’s Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) became the first fighter to advance to the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight final, besting Latvia’s Mairis Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs) by majority decision in a truly fantastic fight at the Arena Riga in Latvia. Usyk also took Briedis’ WBO title, so he’s now the unified WBC and WBO champion.
A raucous crowd cheered Briedis throughout the contest, and it was Mairis who got off to a good start through the first few rounds, seemingly hurting Usyk in round 4. Usyk was aggressively jabbing, doing more of the pressuring, and upped the tempo towards the midway point of the fight. He showed good work to the body and effective combination punching off of the jab. To his credit, Briedis arguably landed several of the cleanest and hardest punches of the fight, including a massive uppercut in round 9 that Usyk inexplicably walked through.
There were numerous exhilarating back-and-forth exchanges, particularly in rounds 10-12, and very little to separate them on the scorecards. Clinches were infrequent, referee Kenny Bayless seldom had to intervene, and the pace of the fight was definitely high by cruiserweight standards, with the two combatants combining for more than 1400 punches thrown. It showed a clear contrast in styles, as Usyk jabbed heavily from his southpaw stance, whereas Briedis threw mostly power shots. In the end, the scorecards read 114-114, 115-113, and 115-113 to keep Usyk’s unbeaten record intact.
Both men should be applauded for a great fight, and for Usyk, he’s become a true road warrior. He took the WBO title from Krzysztof Glowacki in Poland, stopped Marco Huck in Germany, and has now taken the WBC belt from Briedis in Latvia.
The WBSS cruiserweight final will be in Saudi Arabia on May 11th. Dorticos vs. Gassiev takes place in Russia on February 3rd.
World Boxing Super Series Cruiserweight bracket
Quarterfinals (Sept/Oct 2017)
#1 Oleksandr “The Cat” Usyk def. Marco “Captain” Huck by TKO, round 10
#3 Mairis Briedis def. Mike “The Rebel” Perez by unanimous decision
#2 Murat “Iron” Gassiev def. Krzysztof Wlodarczyk by KO, round 3
#4 Yunie Dorticos def. Dmitry Kudryashov by KO, round 2
Semifinals (Jan/Feb 2018)
Oleksandr Usyk def. Mairis Briedis by majority decision
Yunier Dorticos vs. Murat Gassiev (February 3rd)
Final (May 2018 in Saudi Arabia)
Oleksandr Usyk vs. Dorticos/Gassiev winner