by Tamas Pradarics
We are right around the corner for the first cruiserweight semi-final bout of the World Boxing Super Series tournament. On Tuesday, both Oleksandr Usyk and Mairis Briedis showed some of their skills through an open training session for media and fans in Riga, Latvia.
The two unbeaten reigning world champions will fight in a quest to unify the WBC and WBO titles on Saturday evening at Arena Riga.
Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs), who holds the WBO crown and is planning his fourth defense of the belt on Saturday, is currently ranked No. 1 at cruiserweight by both BoxingScene and The Ring.
Briedis (23-0, 18 KOs), who won his WBC title back in April last year against veteran former champion Marco Huck, sits No. 3 by The Ring and No. 4 by BoxingScene respectively at 200 pounds.
The highly anticipated super-fight gets the love of fight fans as well as members of the sport of boxing.
”This is a wonderful moment when two reigning world champions have an opportunity to define who is better and to advance to the final bout where the best of the best will be determined. All fans would love to see that in major divisions,” said Alexander Krassyuk, promoter of Usyk to BoxingScene.com.
”Mairis Briedis is a talented, well-trained, skillful WBC world champion. Usyk is the European, World and Olympic champion in the amateurs as well as the WBO world champion [among the pros]. We have got all the reasons to look forward to the 27th of January to see the wonderful performance of two unbeaten champs.”
Krassyuk, who is already in Riga with Usyk, obviously favors his man against the hometown fighter in Briedis, but he is well aware of the risks this unification opportunity holds.
”As both gentlemen are well-trained and skilled boxers (not just fighters), the bout might go the whole distance. I know Briedis has prepared some surprises for Usyk and Usyk did the same. If the good punch lands the fight will be over. Of course, I am looking forward to the victory of my man, but I do realize the threat from the Latvian’s side,” said the promoter.
The winner of Usyk-Briedis is in line to face the victor of another anticipated cruiserweight matchup between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos in the finals of the WBSS tournament. That event is scheduled to be in May in Saudi Arabia.
The Ukrainian businessman also gave his prediction to Gassiev-Dorticos that will take place on February 3 in Russia.
”This is a true 50/50 fight. Gassiev is a massive puncher with a hammer in his glove where Dorticos has a sharp scalpel. If the Cuban does not manage to finish the fight until the seventh, he would most likely lose. But, again, I estimate their chances as equal and I would be among the millions waiting for this bout happen,” said Krassyuk.