By Keith Idec
Oleksandr Uysk hopes Mairis Breidis has a better plan than to hold him throughout their fight Saturday night.
That might’ve served Breidis well against Mike Perez, but Usyk knows exactly how to combat that tactic. As Usyk watched footage of the Breidis-Perez fight, he couldn’t understand why Perez didn’t try using his jab to keep Breidis from holding him.
Perez did his fair share of holding as well in that quarterfinal of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament. Breidis beat the Cuban southpaw by unanimous decision in their 12-rounder September 30 in Riga, Latvia, Breidis’ hometown.
That win enabled Breidis to retain his WBC cruiserweight championship. It also moved him into the WBSS cruiserweight semifinals against Ukraine’s Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs), another southpaw who has traveled to Riga to battle Breidis (23-0, 18 KOs).
“I’ve watched this fight many times now,” Usyk said, referring to Breidis-Perez, as part of a promotional documentary for their fight. “There’s too much hugging in this fight. Why didn’t the referee say, ‘Break?’ What’s this charade for?
“[Breidis] does it pretty damn professionally. He holds. It shouldn’t be allowed. Perez [didn’t] know how to stop it. He doesn’t know how to work with the jab. The jab is the most important thing. If he had worked with the jab, the fight would’ve been more difficult for Mairis.”
Usyk stopped Germany’s Marco Huck in the 10th round September 9 in Berlin to defend his WBO cruiserweight title and advance to the semifinals. He hopes to disappoint Breidis’ hometown fans in similar fashion.
“To tell you the truth, I think he’s boring,” Usyk said. “But he became a good boxer, and he’s quite a skillful boxer since he became a world champion. It’s not easy to win world titles and win  battles, and most of those battles he won by knockout. I don’t like his [boxing] style, but that’s my own subjective opinion.”
The Breidis-Usyk winner will secure his place in the WBSS cruiserweight final and face the winner of the second semifinal between Cuba’s Yunier Dorticos (22-0, 21 KOs), the WBA champ, and Russia’s Murat Gassiev (25-0, 18 KOs, 1 NC), the IBF champ, on February 3 in Sochi, Russia. The cruiserweight final will take place on an undetermined May date in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.