As the World Boxing Super Series junior welterweight tournament wraps up on Saturday and the bantamweight portion to follow two weeks later, questions have arisen as to when to expect the cruiserweight finale between Mairis Briedis and Yuniel Dorticos.
For now, that portion remains on hold and back under extensive review.
The outcome of the semifinal clash between Briedis and Poland’s Krzysztof Glowacki has fallen back in the hands of the World Boxing Organization (WBO), whose cruiserweight title was at stake for their June 15 bout in Riga, Latvia. Due to an appeal filed on July 31—of which BoxingScene.com has obtained a copy—the sanctioning body is forced to revisit a ruling made earlier this summer in light of new evidence surrounding the event, particularly the lack of on-site jurisdiction by any governing body.
An evidentiary hearing was held in the beginning of October, with the matter still under review and a final resolution expected in the coming days.
Glowacki’s handlers are seeking one of two outcomes, both of which would result in his being reinserted into the WBSS cruiserweight tournament. Their team is seeking either for a reversal of the official verdict from a 3rd round knockout by Brieidis to a disqualification win for Glowacki—which would place him in the final round versus Dorticos (24-1, 22KOs), or for the bout to be changed to a No-Contest and an immediate rematch ordered to determine who would next face Dorticos.
The manner in which Briedis was awarded his victory immediately came under fire and has since served as the subject of an official protest and subsequent appeal filed by Glowacki’s legal team, the first of which was filed in the immediate aftermath of the WBSS semifinal bout. The local favorite scored three knockdowns in their condensed shootout, though all of which came after an intentional foul-an elbow across the face of Glowacki—committed by the two-time cruiserweight titlist, including a knockdown which occurred well after the bell to end round two.
Both boxers were guilty of blatant fouls in round two—Glowacki landed a left hand to the base of Briedis’ skull, which was met by a vicious elbow across the Pole’s chin in sending him to the canvas. The sequence nearly went unrecognized by American referee Robert Byrd, whose initial reaction to the foul was urging Glowacki (31-2, 19KOs) to get up before realizing what took place. Briedis (26-1, 19KOs) was deducted one point for the foul, although intentional fouls are normally subject to a two-point deduction. Further review could actually overturn the verdict altogether and render it a disqualification.
Once action resumed, local hero Briedis took over. He caught Glowacki cold, sending him to the canvas just before the end of round two. The Polish southpaw the count and appeared to make it to the bell and out of harm’s way—only for Byrd to allow action to continue due to never hearing the bell. The fight continued for nearly another 10 seconds, long enough for Briedis to pummel Glowacki and once again send him to the canvas. The sequence was ruled a knockdown, to the disbelief of Glowacki’s corner who by this point was standing on the ring apron signaling that the round had ended.
Byrd instead issued a count and then was ready to allow action to continue until the timekeeper frantically rang the bell as loud as possible to alert the third man the frame had long ended.
Briedis closes the show early in round three, flooring Glowacki a third time in prompting a stoppage and being hailed as the new WBO titlist.
The foul and the mishandling of the entire round in general by referee Robert Byrd served as the basis of the first protest filed by Glowacki’s promoter, Andrew Wasilewski who began gathering video and written evidence immediately after the controversial ending to the contest. The matter resided with the WBO until July 7, at which point the sanctioning body noted that it “lacks subject matter jurisdiction to disqualify WBO Participant Briedis for any and all actions incur by such fighter during the course of the bout against WBO Participant Glowacki. Such ruling and/or determination lies under the authority and jurisdiction of the Latvia Boxing Federation.
Further noted in the ruling was that the WBO “ lacks subject matter jurisdiction and authority to reverse and/or overturn an official bout result of Technical Knockout (TKO) to a “No Contest,” once again deferring such a ruling to the Latvian commission.”
Glowacki’s team did just that, only to uncover an earth-shattering development.
According a statement submitted by the Latvian Professional Boxing Federation, the governing body “confirmed to the WBO that it had not licensed any of Glowacki, Briedis or Byrd and had no ability to review any of their actions. All three of Glowacki, Briedis or Byrd were appointed, sanctioned and approved by the WBO to compete for its world championship, and the WBO was the only organization to sanction it as a world championship bout.”
It is an important distinction for a number of reasons, as sanctioning bodies only have the power to order a fight but often defer to the sanctioning body when it comes to overturning an official verdict. Such was the case in the first scheduled fight between Russia’s Denis Lebedev and Panama’s Guilllermo Jones, where Jones rallied from behind to score an 11th round knockout to win the World Boxing Association (WBA) cruiserweight title in May 2013.
The bout was marred in post-fight controversy, however, when it was learned that Jones tested positive for a banned substance. The WBA reinstated Lebedev as its champion, only for the loss to remain on his record for years due to failure by the Russian Boxing Federation to eventually change the verdict to a No-Contest.
A more recent example was cited by Glowacki’s handlers as to the power a sanctioning body has to right a wrong.
The August 31 clash between Charlie Edwards and Julio Cesar Martinez was contested for the World Boxing Council (WBC) flyweight title in London, England. Martinez was believed to have won the title by 3rd round knockout, the final blow delivered as Edwards had taken a knee and was still on the canvas. It went undetected by referee Mark Lyson, who counted out the Welshman in ruling a knockout victory for Mexico’s Martinez.
The in-ring celebration was pre-empted by WBC President Mauricio Sulaiman, whom immediately met with Charlie Giles, chairman of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoC) and Duane Ford, who was on site as the WBC supervisor to discuss the controversial finish. Within minutes, it was agreed upon that the correct ruling would be to change the outcome to a No-Contest, and for the WBC to order an immediate rematch.
To date, Glowacki never received even that much from the WBO. The sanctioning body’s decision on July 7 was to uphold the official verdict and allow the WBSS tournament to proceed as planned. Upon conclusion of the forthcoming final between Briedis and Dorticos (24-1, 22KOs)—the latter whom advanced following a 10th round knockout of Andrew Tabiti in the evening’s chief support—the winner will then have 120 days to defend the title versus Glowacki.
That was never good enough for the former two-time cruiserweight titlist, even less so given the revelation that the WBO has the power to do more than has already been done.
To date, WBSS tournament organizers Comosa AG have not announced a tentative date or location for the current championship round. It was previously speculated that the bout was heading back to Riga on Dec. 14, although those plans—especially in light of the Latvian commission’s washing its hands of any responsibility from the current mess—have long been scrapped. Also of note is that neither Briedis nor Dorticos are any longer listed as cruiserweight finalists on the official WBSS website tracking all tournament results.
This development is just the latest in a laundry list of issues which have plagued the second season of the WBSS tournament. Several participants expressed displeasure in the delayed process of full compensation from the quarterfinal round last fall, with then-unbeaten 140-pound titlist Ivan Baranchyk even threatening to withdraw from his semifinal clash with eventual finalist Josh Taylor. The matter was resolved, with Taylor scoring a competitive but clear decision win to claim his first major title and advance to this weekend’s junior welterweight finale and title unification clash with unbeaten Regis Prograis—who himself nearly walked from the tournament earlier this summer over alleged breach of contract on the part of its organizers. Assurances were made that all involved participants would be paid in full and on time, thus allowing this weekend’s unification bout and tournament final which takes place this Saturday at The O2 in London, England.
Less than two weeks later will come the final round of the bantamweight tournament, as unbeaten three-division titlist Naoya Inoue faces legendary four-division and two-time bantamweight titlist Nonito Donaire. Their bout will take place Nov. 7 in front of a sold-out crowd of more than 20,000 at the Super Arena in Saitama, Japan.
As for the cruiserweight final, there remains a far more grueling legal battle before another can take place in the ring.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox