By Jake Donovan
For the fourth time in five tournament fights, the World Boxing Super Series has provided Mairis Brieidis with a home game.
Details are still being finalized for the WBSS finals between fellow two-time cruiserweight titlists Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos, but BoxingScene.com has been informed of the event to take place on Dec. 14 at Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia.
Representatives from both camps have declined comment to BoxingScene.com, with all parties involved denying any such knowledge of a set date and location. Comosa AG’s Kalle Sauerland did not respond to an inquiry from BoxingScene.com seeking comment.
Barring a major U-turn—which, sadly, would be par for the course given the drama that has plagued WBSS as of late—the setting would place both boxers back at the very venue which housed their pair of semifinals wins, exorcising past tournament demons in the process.
Dorticos (24-1, 22KOs) stormed into the finals with a Knockout of the Year entrant, flattening previously unbeaten Andrew Tabiti in the 10th round of their vacant title fight this past June. The win enabled Dorticos to advance one step further than was the case a year ago, when he was stopped in 12 rounds by Murat Gassiev in the WBSS season one semifinals last February in Russia.
The setback cost Dorticos his perfect record along with the alphabet title he acquired 21 months prior, also on the road in a 10th round knockout of Youri Kalenga in their May 2016 in-ring war in France.
In heading to Latvia for a second straight time, the 33-year old Miami-based Cuban knockout artist will fight on the road for the fourth time in his last six starts, including three in his opponent’s home country.
Briedis (25-1, 19KOs) has endured the opposite experience, with all but one of his WBSS appearances spanning two seasons taking place in his Riga hometown.
Given his run of controversy in each of his two bouts this season, few would blame Dorticos or his team if they demanded something closer to an even playing field.
The one bout for Briedis to take place on neutral ground resulted in the most criticized scoring decision in any WBSS-sanctioned bout to date, when he claimed an unpopular 12-round decision over Noel Gevor last November in Chicago, Ill.
It paled in comparison to his march into the finals.
In front of a capacity crowd at home, Briedis scored perhaps the biggest win of his career in blasting out Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki inside of three rounds. The bout remains mired in controversy for the foulfest that erupted in round two, along with the inept officiating job turned in by referee Robert Byrd, who continues to find work in his Las Vegas home base. Briedis responded to a blow to the back of his skull with an elbow across Glowacki’s face, drawing a point deduction for the infraction.
Once action resumed, Briedis scored the first knockdown of the bout shortly before what was supposed to be the end of round two. Glowacki beat the count and though he made it to the bell, only for Byrd to allow the action to continue for another 20 seconds. Briedis took advantage of the bonus period, sending his still dazed foe to the canvas for a second time before finishing him off for good in round three.
An immediate protest was filed with the Wold Boxing Organization (WBO), whose title Briedis snatched in the controversial win. An investigation only resulted in Glowacki being guaranteed a crack at whomever prevails in the tournament finals. The winner will have 120 days to defend versus the former two-time titlist, which means said chosen one could look forward to fighting again by April 2020.
Just one of the three tournament finals have officially been announced by WBSS brass. The bantamweight finals between unbeaten three-division titlist and pound-for-pound entrant Naoya Inoue and legendary four-division and two-time bantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire is set for Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan.
The super lightweight finals remains in limbo, as unbeaten Regis Prograis is currently suing tournament organizers—as previously reported by BoxingScene.com—for alleged breach of contract, which has jeopardized his planned unification bout with Scotland’s Josh Taylor.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox