By Alexey Sukachev
He may never fight for a legitimate heavyweight title due to his diminutive (for a true heavyweight) stature, but tonight Latvian bomber Mairis Briedis has proven firmly he can compete with anyone in terms of his fire power.
Fighting in Grozny, Chechen Republic, Russia, against long-time fringe contender Manuel Charr (28-4, 15 KOs), the natural cruiserweight produced a picturesque one-punch knockout with just five seconds remaining in the fifth round.
The moment of unconscious Charr falling face-first to the canvas will undeniably be listed amongst the 2015 Knockout of the Year candidates. The bout took place in front of vivid boxing supporter Ramzan Kadyrov, the president of the Chechen Republic, who was mildly shocked by the outcome. SKV Boxing promoted this event, which combined mixed martial arts with prizefighting.
Briedis, 30, of Riga, Latvia, stands 6'1'' and fights usually as a cruiserweight. He was fighting not only a former heavyweight world title challenger but also a much bigger fighter in a Germany-based Lebanese of Syrian origin. Charr is 6'4'' and usually weighs at about 250. But the Latvian knew what to do with his disadvantage. He was moving laterally, circling to the left of Charr, also 30, to avoid his right hand. Not astonishingly fast, Briedis was nevertheless very elusive and timed his opponent well. His jab was crisp and felt by the Syrian - specifically in the first three rounds. Charr pressured his foe but struggled to land clean punches.
He did better in round three, connecting with some right hands, and Briedis started to show signs of fatigue in the fourth. Yet he was still able to move well, landing quick right-right-left combos, while Charr was ineffectively trying to pin the Latvian's head with one single punch. It has never come. Oppositely, at the end of the fifth round, the Syrian leaned forward to eat a monstrous right uppercut by Briedis followed by a left hook. The latter punch was already superfluous as Charr was falling face-first to the canvas, a reminiscent moment of Manny Pacquiao in the fourth Marquez fight.
Charr drops his second straight and seems to be out of contention. The Latvian's BoxRec record improves to solid 17-0, 14 KOs, but he can also be listed as 28-1, with 19 KOs if Bigger's Better tournaments are taken into account. Regardless of his real record and the division he will continue to fight in, WBO #13 200lber Mairis Briedis, who also holds the IBA title, is said to be co-promoted by the Main Events. He has only fought overseas once. It looks like the time has come to come back over more often.
In a co-feature, local boy Apti Ustarkhanov improved to 11-1-2, with 3 KOs, after the fifth-round stoppage of Russian Sergey Beloshapkin (12-14-1, 4 KOs). Ustarkhanov dropped his opponent with a left hook in the third round, and Beloshapkin failed to continue after the fifth due to an injury.