Mairis Briedis Stuns Pavel Zhuravlev in Nicosia, Cyprus

By Alexey Sukachev

Jean-Christophe Courreges of Bigger's Better Promotion and local promoter Georgios Sargiannidis unified their efforts to stage a nice-packed little tournament at Pavilion Nicosia in Nicosia, Cyprus. Eight boxers are scheduled to determine the winner of $30,000 in three-round bouts resembling the British Prizefighter format with four quarterfinals, two semifinals and, surely, with the final.

In the first quarterfinal, Russian heavyweight Alexander Timanov (4-0-1, 1 KO) got the better of 38-year old Polish pro debutant Jacek Puchacz (0-1) over the distance. Puchacz was floored in the first round. No scores were revealed but BoxingScene had it 30-26 for the original winner.

In the second quarterfinal, Latvian kickboxer-turned-pugilist Mairis Briedis moved up to 2-0 with 1 KO, getting the rid of local debutant Panaghiotis Diakos (now 0-1) in 62 seconds. Briedis rocked his foe with a right hand, and the Cypriot was too groggy to continue.

Ukrainian master Pavel "The Caiman" Zhuravlev (6-0, 4 KOs) made an easy work of debuting 40-year old Serbian heavyweight Miodrag Petkovic (0-1) stopping him in 1:47 of the first stanza. Zhuravlev first shaked his opponent with the right hand hard enough for the referee to issue a standing eight. Then he decked him with the left and Serbian fighter wasn't allowed to continue.

In the last quarterfinal, well-known Germany-based Nigerian Gbenga "Bang-Bang" Oloukun (18-4, 11 KOs), who has a win over former world champion Lamon Brewster, cruised through much smaller Romanian Florin Nazare (2-3, 1 KO). Oloukun was the better man in the first round. In the wild second stanza, he was deducted a point for hitting after the break but knocked Nazare down twice. The Nigerian was awarded knockdowns twice more in the third, before the fight was stopped at 1:24.

In the first semifinal, Mairis Briedis (now 3-0, 2 KOs) destroyed Russian Alexander Timanov (4-1-1, 1 KO) in just two minutes. Both fighters kicked it off promptly going in for a rumble in close quarters. After several exchanges, Briedis issued a triple combo on his bigger opponent and floored him down with the monster left hand to the jaw. Timanov got up but was on shaky legs yet he was allowed to fight on. Not for long though, as Briedis knocked him down again - now with the right hand - at 2:37 of the very first round.

In a stunner, Ukrainian kickboxer Pavel Zhuravlev (7-0, 4 KOs), now competing as a professional boxer, stole a decision over much more heralded Gbenga Oloukun, who dropped to 18-5, 11 KOs. Zhuravlev possibly was and clearly looked as a wrong winner, with his face terribly smashed, nose bleeding and a mouse at the bottom of his left eye. Oloukun took the first one with sharper, stronger punches while smashing Pavel's nose. The second one was also in his favour. The Ukrainian redeemed himself and took round three - courtesy of his big right hand in the midst of the round. BoxingScene scored this bout 29-28 - for unlucky loser Oloukun.

You have never probably heard of him, but now you should. Latvian dark horse Mairis Briedis, several times national kickboxing champion, gets off with a paycheck for $15,000 ($30,000 proved to be the entire prize of the tournament) and improves his record to 4-0 with 2 KOs after a decision victory over lucky finalist Pavel Zhuravlev.

Latvian fighter got off to a good start, continuously tagging his tired and swollen opponent with right hands. He also sneaked in a right uppercut to make Zhuravlev unhealed cuts to bleed profusely in the first. After a cautious start round two quickly evolved into a heated slugfest but nobody had the edge though Briedis shots looked harder and better prepared. With a bloody mask on his face the Ukrainian (now 7-1, 4 KOs) went for a kill swinging punches with bad intentions but fatigued, hard-breathing Briedis was able to redeem himself under fire and take the fight to Zhuravlev. BoxingScene saw it 29-28 - for the Latvian fighter, who made a name of himself in this wonderful (for him) night.

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