Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez – Weights
By Jim Dower: WBC World cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs) weighed in successfully at 198.6 pounds on Friday for his title defense against former heavyweight contender Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 KOs) for their fight this Saturday night in their quarter finals fight on World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at the Arena Riga, Latvia Perez weighed slightly less at 197.3 lbs.
Perez may have misjudged the weight when stripping down to the 200 lb. cruiserweight limit, considering he came in almost 3 pounds under the weight limit for the division. Perez has already trimmed down from 240 lbs. for his fight at heavyweight against Alexander Povetkin on May 22, 2015. Perez generally weighed between 230 and 240 for his fights in the heavyweight division. Perez took a lot of weight off to get down to 200 to compete in the WBSS cruiserweight tournament. You have to worry whether Perez, 31, may have sacrificed too much weight in getting down to the 200-lb. limit.
“I can’t wait for tomorrow,” said Briedis. “Every fighter in this to tournament deserves to be here. I am not an odds maker, so I don’t do predictions. I can only promise that I will do my best to win in front of a sold-out arena and make my countrymen proud!”
Briedis, 32, will be fighting in front of his own boxing fans in Riga, Latvia on Saturday night, and you can bet that is going to give him a huge advantage. Perez will need to be strong mentally to overcome the advantage Briedis will have with the crowd on his side. Briedis is a good enough fighter to win anywhere in the world, as he showed in his last fight in beating Marco Huck by a 12 round unanimous decision on April 1 in Berlin, Germany. Briedis ignored the pro-Huck crowd to easily defeat him to capture the vacant WBC cruiserweight title. Briedis will now be making his first defense of his WBC title against the Cuban Perez.
There was a lot of recent talk that Perez would come in overweight at the weigh-in. He showed everyone wrong by not only making weight, but coming in 3 lbs. under the weight limit for the division.
Hopefully, Perez didn’t go overboard in losing weight to prove a point, because he’s going to need to be at full strength for his fight on Saturday night against Briedis. This is going to be a tough fight for Perez, who is fighting only for the second time in the last 2 years. Perez took 2 years off from boxing after he was knocked out in the 1st round by Alexander Povetkin in 2015.
Perez lost a lot of valuable time in his career. It was a wise move potentially for the southpaw Perez to move down to cruiserweight, because he lacked the size at 6’1” to hang with the taller heavyweights in the division like Deontay Wilder, and Anthony Joshua. Those are guys that are in the 6’5” and 6’7” range. When you’re only 6’1” and you’re not a huge puncher, like Perez, it puts you behind the eight-ball straightaway in your fights in the heavyweight division. By moving down to cruiserweight, Perez at least has a chance to win a world title and do well.
Even at cruiserweight though, there are some guys that might be too big and strong for Perez like the 6’3” Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev. Perez is smart not to have gone after either of those guys. He clearly feels that he has a chance against the 6’1” Briedis, who isn’t as tall or as powerful as those two cruiserweights.
Briedis might have similar power to Usyk, but he lacks his height, mobility, boxing skills and craftiness. That’s the main difference between those guys. Perez isn’t going to have it easy despite picking out a guy he thinks he can beat in Briedis. Of all the cruiserweights in the WBSS, Briedis is probably the No.2 guy behind Usyk, and he might even be better than him. We’ll have to see Briedis can get far enough in the tournament to face the 2012 Olympic gold medalist Usyk. It’ll be a good fight if the two of them meet up.
“I did that to show that I did not have any problems with making the weight,” said Perez. ”Some journalist asked at the press conference about a rumor saying that I was struggling to make weight. But I have not been struggling. Actually, I have been eating cake all week. Latvia has great cake. I am motivated. My kids motivate me the most. I predict I win. I can only see me winning this fight. I do not care how I will win. One round or 12 rounds, I will get the win.”
Perez usually likes to plod forward and throw huge power shots in his fights. We saw him do that in his tragic fight against Magomed Abdusalamov on November 2013, and he did the same his other fights since then against Carlos Takam, Bryant Jennings, Darnell Wilson, Povetkin and most recently against Viktor Biscak. Perez looked good in beating Biscak, but it was a very poor opponent that he had to deal with. Perez will need to show better combination punching for him to have a chance of beating Briedis. The count punching ability along with the hand speed that Briedis possesses could be difficult for Perez to overcome in this fight.
Briedis is a big puncher with counter punching ability. Perez will need to have a good battle plan for him to win this fight. He’s not going to be able to walk Briedis down like he’d been doing at heavyweight most of his career.