Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez prediction and analysis
By Jeff Aranow: Mairis Briedis and Mike Perez will be fighting tonight in the quarterfinal fight on World Boxing Super Series at the Riga Arena in Riga, Latvia. The fight will be streamed on WorldBoxingSuperSeries.com, and it can also be seen on DirectTV on Audience in the U.S, as well as on the Super Channel in Canada and ITV Box Office in the UK. The start time for the Briedis-Perez fight is at 5:00 p.m. ET.
(Photo credit: World Boxing Super Series)
The 32-year-old Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs) will be putting his WBC World cruiserweight title on the line against Briedis (22-2-1, 14 KOs). Briedis is the favorite, as he’s the bigger puncher, the more active of the two, and he’s fighting at home. Perez has dropped an awful lot of weight in going down from 240+ to compete for the big money in the $50 million WBSS tournament.
You can’t knock the 31-year-old Perez for trying, but he’s got the deck stacked against him tonight. Perez looked very thin at the weigh-in on Friday in coming in at 197 lbs. Perez ate cake at the weigh-in to show the boxing media that he could make weight. There were a lot of rumors going around that Perez would come in over the 200-lb. weight limit for the fight, but he did his job of making the weight with room to spare.
Briedis is coming off of a fine 12 round decision victory over Marco Huck on April 1 in Germany to win the vacant WBC title. It was a good fight for Briedis, as he beat Huck easier than anyone had ever done leading up to that point. Oleksandr Usyk has since stopped Huck in the 10th round on September 9th in quarterfinals in Germany.
“I am looking forward to showing that Latvia is not only a country with singers and dancers, but also some world-class boxing. There is some pressure on my shoulders, fighting in front of a sold-out arena, but I am sure I can handle it,” said Briedis.
The pressure is on Briedis fighting at home in Latvia against a dangerous opponent in Perez. I think that’s going to help Briedis and hurt the Cuban fighter. Perez looked intimidated when he traveled to Moscow, Russian in 2015 for his fight against Alexander Povetkin, who knocked him out in the 1st round. The moment seemed too big for Perez. He walked into the ring with a 1000-yard stare of someone that was not mentally ready to be fighting a big name like Povetkin in front of a pro-Povetkin crowd of Russian boxing fans. We could see the same thing tonight with Perez not being mentally ready to be fighting Briedis in front of a large crowd of Latvian boxing fans. It’s a long way from home for Perez, who lives in Ireland now.
Perez has fought once since moving down to cruiserweight last June in stopping Viktor Biscak in 29 seconds of the 1st round at the Odyssey Arena in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Perez would have been better off getting a couple of fights under his belt against good contenders at cruiserweight before taking part in the WBSS tournament. The way is right now, Perez doesn’t deserve to be fighting in the tournament. Before his fight with Biscak, Perez had been out of the ring for 2 years. Perez was a good fighter at heavyweight, but the reality is he was out of boxing for 2 years after his loss to Povetkin. That’s not good news for Perez when you gauge whether he has a chance of pulling off the upset against Briedis. Moreover, Perez’s last significant win was against Magomed Abdusalamov on November 2, 2013. That was 4 years ago. It might as well have been a lifetime ago. Perez’s only 2 since that fight against Abdusalamov were against journeyman Darnell Wilson (25-18-3) and the inexperienced Biscak.
Perez dodged a loss in his fight with Carlos Takam on January 18, 2014, with the judges scoring it a 10-round draw. I saw that Perez-Takam fight, and you can make an argument that Perez only won 3 rounds. The scoring for the fight was abominable. Takam deserved the win. If count that as a loss too, Perez is coming into the Briedis fight tonight with a record of 2-3 in his last 5 fights. That’s obviously terrible. The inactivity for Perez coupled with the incredible weight loss that he’s undergone; it leaves him very little chance of beating Briedis.
Tonight’s Briedis-Perez winner will move on to face Oleksandr “The Cat” Usyk (13-0, 11 KOs), in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series tournament next year. Usyk is the No.1 seed in the WBSS tournament.
“I am ready to fight,” Perez said. “I can’t wait! It will definitely be a good fight.”
Perez is a good fighter, but he’s rushing into the fight with Briedis without having acclimated himself to the cruiserweight division properly. With all the weight that Perez has dropped, he’s going to struggle trying to find enough energy and punching power to compete with Briedis, who hits very hard. Briedis is such a good counter puncher, and he puts his shots together really well. Perez hasn’t seen anyone like this in his pro career. Briedis is better fighter offensively than anyone Perez has fought to date, and that includes Povetkin. Briedis is not a good style for Perez for his first fight in the WBSS. Perez would have a better chance against a plodder like 23-year-old Murat Gassiev.
I see Briedis knocking Perez out in this fight by the 10th round if he lasts that long. Perez looks too sculpted with his physique. He’s taken the weight off, but it’s left him looking too cut up, and more like a bodybuilder and not a fighter. Even if Perez had eased his way into the Briedis fight by taking a half dozen tune-up fights, I think it’s an unwinnable fight for him. Briedis is another level with his punching power, boxing ability and his movement. It’s unfortunate for Perez that he didn’t start his pro career at cruiserweight instead of at heavyweight, considering that it was clear from the very start of his career that he didn’t have the size to be a major player at heavyweight.
Had Perez focused immediately on fighting at cruiserweight, he might have won a world title by now and made a heck of a lot more money than he has at heavyweight. Perez would do better against Briedis if the fight were just 8 rounds. Perez will be strong for 6 to 8 rounds tonight, but after that, the weight loss that he’s undergone will leave him weak, tired and vulnerable. Briedis will come on likely KO Perez.
In the undercard of the Briedis vs. Perez fight card, the following fights will take place:
Former WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (27-1, 17 KOs) fighting Leonardo Damian Bruzzese (18-3, 6 KOs) in a 10-round fight in the co-feature bout. Glowacki feels he’ll steal the show by beating Bruzzese in an impressive manner in the fight of the night. It’s unlikely that Glowacki will be able to upstage the Briedis vs. Perez fight no matter how good he looks. The Argentinian Bruzzese is not good enough for Glowacki to gain much from this fight. This is little more than another showcase fight for the southpaw Glowacki against another overmatched opponent.
Other fights on tonight’s card:
Tim Robin Lihaug (16-3, 9 KOs) vs. Sergey Gorokhov (8-2, 6 KOs)
Filip Hrgovic vs. Ali “Sultan” Baghouz (10-0-1, 6 KOs)