Mairis Briedis’ latest career decision clears a path for the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) to proceed as planned, just not with as much hardware as once hoped to be the case.
A failure to comply with a mandated rematch with Krzysztof Glowacki has resulted in Briedis (26-1, 19KOs) being stripped of his World Boxing Organzation (WBO) cruiserweight title, BoxingScene.com has learned. The fight was ordered on November 6, with the two sides given a 15-day window to reach terms or else be subject to a purse bid hearing.
That period came and went with Briedis attempting to come to terms or budge from previous plans to move forward with WBSS cruiserweight final versus Yunier Dorticos, whose International Boxing Federation (IBF) title will now be the only belt at stake for the forthcoming tournament finale. As such, the WBO has ruled that its title is now vacant“in light of WBO Participant Briedis’ unavailability to comply with the immediate rematch against Glowacki as ordered, and pursuing to compete in the WBSS Finals Tournament against IBF World (cruiserweight champion Dorticos).”
The Puerto Rico-based sanctioning body ordered the rematch in conjunction with a partial award issued to Glowacki, whose legal and promotional team were able to successfully appeal a prior ruling upholding the original outcome of his controversial fight with Briedis this past June. The two met in the WBSS semifinal round, with Briedis scoring a 3rd round knockout in bis hometown of Riga, Latvia.
The outcome was mired in controversy, given the mishandling of the bout by referee Robert Byrd, who failed to properly act on intentional fouls committed by both parties as well as allowing the 2nd round to extend well beyond the bell, resulting in a defenseless Glowacki—whom had been floored prior to the bell—suffering a second knockdown.
Glowacki was never allotted time to recover from the earlier foul—an elbow across his face, to which Briedis admitted he threw intentionally, in retaliation to a rabbit punch which went undisciplined—nor from the after-the-bell knockdown. The matter was sent to the WBO Championship Committee shortly after the conclusion of the bout, with the initial ruling upholding the event and leaving it in the hands of the Latvia boxing commission as to whether or not to override the official verdict while ordering the winner of the WBSS final between Briedis and Dorticos to defend versus Glowacki within 120 days of said tournament conclusion.
New evidence came to light which prompted Glowacki to file an appeal, upon learning that the bout was fought solely under the auspices of the WBO and with WBSS rules in place. The Latvia boxing commission openly confessed to this, acknowledging that neither Briedis, Glowacki nor the referee were licensed under local rule, which shot down the WBO’s efforts to deflect responsibility in terms of having final say in overturning an official outcome.
The matter made its way back to the WBO Championship Committee, who was split but ultimately ruled in favor of Glowacki. While the official verdict was upheld, Briedis was mandated by the sanctioning body to commit to an immediate rematch in lieu of moving forward with the tournament finale.
Briedis’ silence on the issue while allowing the deadline to pass spoke loudly of the next steps he intends to take in his career. The WBO made it official on Monday.
“The WBO [Cruiserweight] Championship Title shall be declared “Vacant” in light of WBO Participant Briedis’ failure to comply with the terms of the WBO Regulations of World Championship Contests as per the ruling outlined by the WBO Complaints and Greivances Committee,” Luis Batista Salas, chairman of the WBO Championship Committee noted in an official company letter submitted to representatives for both boxers on Monday.
Glowacki (31-2, 19KOs) will now be eligible to fight for the vacant title in a bid to become a three-time cruiserweight titlist. The Polish southpaw first claimed the belt in an instant classic, recovering from a knockdown to drop and stop Marco Huck in the 11th round of their Aug. 2015 thriller. The upset denied Huck a bid at claiming sole ownership of the record for most cruiserweight title defenses in history, leaving him tied with Johnny Nelson.
The turnover wasn’t quite as long-lasting for Glowacki, who conceded the crown to Oleksandr Usyk just 13 month later. The belt became available once Usyk—who claimed top honors in season one of the WBSS Cruiserweight tournament—severed ties with the division to move up to heavyweight. At that point, Glowacki—who claimed the WBO interim cruiserweight title in the quarterfinal round of the WBSS season two tournament—was upgraded to full titlist, before losing the belt to Brieidis in June without making a successful defense.
Now comes the chance to put the belt back around his waist, versus the next highest rated contender. At the moment, next in line is Lawrence Okolie (14-0, 11KOs), who represented Great Britain in the 2016 Rio Olympics and is fresh off of a 7th round stoppage of perennial Top 10 contender Yves Ngabu this past October in London, England.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox