Briedis vs. Perez winner faces Usyk next
By Jeff Aranow: The World Boxing Super Series continues this Saturday night with WBC cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis fighting Mike Perez with the winner of his match to face WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs in the semifinals the first quarter of 2018.
(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)
You can say that Briedis-Perez winner will have the toughest fight in the tournament in battling Usyk. Recently, Usyk defeated Marco Huck by a 10th round knockout in his quarterfinals fight in the WBSS tournament on September 9th in Berlin, Germany. The win took the 30-year-old 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk to the next round of the $50 million WBSS tourney.
The loser of the Briedis-Perez fight will be eliminated from the World Boxing Super Series single elimination tourney. The winner of the fight will move on and battle Usyk next. The good news is that the Perez vs. Briedis winner will get it over with in fighting the No.1 seen in Usyk. They won’t have to dread that fight. The Briedis-Perez winner can face Usyk while they’re coming off of a big win. The Briedis vs. Perez winner will have a lot of confidence going into the Usyk fight. That’s one positive that they’ll have going for them.
Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs) will be defending his WBC title at him against Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) on Saturday night at the Riga Arena in Riga, Lavia. The boxing public is pretty evenly split in who they feel will win the fight. While some fans feel that Briedis is looking hard to beat, others believe that the 31-year-old Cuban Perez has too much talent for him to handle in this fight.
What has a lot of people wondering is how well will Perez deal with losing so much weight to squeeze down to the cruiserweight division. Perez has been the incredible shrinking man in losing over 40 pounds to go from 240 lbs. to 197 lbs. in just 2 years. It’s something that a normal person can do and feel fine, but when you’re a boxer losing that kind of weight, it’ll sometimes drain you. Fighters like former heavyweight champion Tyson Fury has gotten away with losing vast amounts of weight in between fights, and he’s done well. It’s quite possible that Perez will be able to fight at a high level against Briedis on Saturday night.
“I have lots of experience as both an amateur and professional, a lot of ability and now at cruiserweight I’m much faster on my feet and can throw faster combinations, so I feel like I’m a much better fighter,” said Perez to ESPN.com. ”I really believe I can win the Muhammad Ali trophy. That is how I see it. I think I will win. I cannot see anyone else winning it. I am the best cruiserweight in the competition.”
If Perez gets past Briedis, he’s going to have an incredibly tough time dealing with the movement and long arms of Usyk. Perez has slow feet, and he’s more of a plodder than anything. Perez is similar to Marco Huck in terms of his plodding style of fighting. Perez might need to be happy with just getting past Briedis to briefly hold the WBC title. A victory for Perez is not a forgotten conclusion in the Briedis fight, even though he has much more experience than him at the amateur level. Perez was a very good amateur fighter in Cuba. He wasn’t on the level of Cuban stars like Teofilo Stevenson or even close to that.
Perez was just a good amateur fighter from the Cuban amateur system, which pumps great fighters one after another year after year. Briedis was a kick boxer who took up boxing, and did really well at it. You can tell from watching Briedis fight, he just has an incredible knack for boxing. He would obviously be a better boxer if his background was in boxing, but it doesn’t seem to have slowed him down. Briedis is fighting like he’d always been a boxer. Briedis might have too much for Perez to deal with on Saturday night with his heavy hands, elusive style of fighting and his combinations.
“I am well prepared for Perez,” Briedis said. “He is a southpaw and I am getting great sparring from different southpaw boxers. I can’t wait for (Saturday). On that date I will make the Latvian people proud.”
Briedis has looked very good in beating Marco Huck, Simon Vailiy, Olanwaju Durodola, Daniel Venter and Lazlo Hubert. Briedis is an incredibly intelligent fighter, who is constantly thinking and looking for ways to beat his opponents. Briedis finds ways to win his fights. He’s not just a crude banger who goes out there looking to destroy his opponents as fast as possible. Briedis will box if he has to against a big puncher like Perez, That’s something that Perez is going to need to be aware of on Saturday. This isn’t going to be fight in which Briedis is going to come right at him looking to slug it out the way that Carlos Takam did in his fight with Perez.
Takam, by the way, deserved a victory over Perez in their fight in 2014. The fight was scored a 10 round draw, but it was clearly a win for Takam, a big win. Perez came into the fight highly hyped following his win over Magomed Abduslamov on November 2, 2013. Perez looked like he was shaken from the experience of what took place in the Abdusalamov fight. I don’t think he was nearly ready to jump back into the ring just 2 months later to fight a volume puncher like Takam in January 2014. If that was Perez at his best, then he’s going to have problems against Briedis, because that version of Perez will not be competitive on Saturday night with the Latvian fighter.
Perez has got to show more variation and more facets to his game for him to beat a clever fighter like Briedis, being that he’ll be giving him different looks and trying a lot of different things to get the win.
Briedis vs. Perez will be televised on DirectTV on Audience Network on Saturday night in the U.S, starting at 7:00 p.m. ET on delay. Briedis is the No.3 seen in the tournament. Briedis and Usyk look like the guys to beat in the tournament. Both are going to be really hard to beat. That’s not a knock on Perez, but he’s a pretty basic fighter that comes straight ahead. If you stand in front of him, he’ll try and take you out with power shots. Sometimes he wins with his slugging, but at other times Perez fails miserably like when he was knocked out in the 1st round by Alexander Povetkin and out-boxed by Bryant Jennings. Perez fought like he was scared of Jennings. It was a strange fight.
“It’s an opportunity of a lifetime,” Perez said. “Fighting in Latvia isn’t an issue for me. I don’t care where I fight. I’ll fight anywhere. I feel good, I’m confident, and I’m looking forward to Riga. I have a chance to become world champion in my very first fight in the tournament, so I couldn’t have asked for better. Breidis is a good champion but I can’t wait to bring the belt home,” said Perez.
This fight could turn out to be a grueling war. If goes down like that, it could end quickly. Perez has already shown to have chin issues. Briedis hasn’t been hurt yet. He stood up to Olanrewau Durodola’s huge bombs to stop him in the 9th round last year on May 14, 2016.