Mairis Briedis vs. Mike Perez this Saturday in Riga
By Jim Dower: WBC cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs) will be fighting this Saturday on September 30 against Mike Perez (22-2-1, 14 Kos) in the quarterfinals of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) at the Arena Riga, in Riga, Latvia.
Briedis, 32, is seen as one of the main threats to beating No.1 seed Oleksandr Usyk. These 2 guys are the class of the WBSS tournament. Briedis could have his hands full against Perez, who was a good heavyweight before dropping down to fight in the cruiserweight division recently.
Perez, 31, wants to get a chance at the huge prize money available to the winner of the tournament. With $50 million in prize money, it made sense for Perez to fight in the tournament. The only question is will Perez have enough strength to compete against Briedis.
As a heavyweight, Perez weighed as high as 247. In Perez’s last fight in the heavyweight division, he came in at 240 lbs. against Alexander Povetkin on May 22, 2015. Povetkin knocked in the 1st round. Perez took 2 years off from boxing. He returned in June of this year in stopping Viktor Biscak in round 1.Perez probably should have taken at least one or two additional fights against better opposition so he could get properly acclimated to the cruiserweight division. You can’t call Biscak a good enough fighter for Perez to get ready for a fighter as good as Briedis.
Briedis vs. Perez comes down to these important areas:
• Power – Even
• Speed – Briedis
• Ring IQ – Briedis
• Punch resistance – Briedis
• Mobility – Briedis
• Experience – Perez
• Stamina – Even
Briedis beat Marcos Huck by a 12 round unanimous decision in his last fight in April. The two fighters squared off for the vacant WBC cruiserweight title. This was the belt the World Boxing Council stripped from Tony Bellew. Huck was no match for Briedis. The fight was completely one-sided with Briedis winning by the scores 118-109, 116-111 and 117-110.
Briedis has shown major power in stopping heavyweight Manuel Charr in the 5th round in 2015. When the Briedis-Charr fight was first made, boxing fans were saying that Briedis had bit off more than he could chew by taking on a big puncher in Charr. It’s not that Charr was a great heavyweight. It’s that he’s a big puncher, and he outweighed Briedis by 32 lbs. in that fight. Charr came into the match weighing 245 lbs. compared to Briedis’ 213. Briedis’ power carries to the heavyweight division.
Perez is going to need to come out firing on all cylinders against Briedis if he wants to get his respect early. This fight could get out of hand quickly if Perez starts out tentatively the way he did in his fight against Povetkin. Perez looked like he was not warmed up for the Povetkin fight, and he was slow at reacting when Povetkin shifted his feet to throw to the side of his head.
It was a simple tactic that Easter European fighters use to punch from a different angle, but Perez acted like it was the first time he’d ever seen it. He should have been ready for that move by Povetkin, because he uses it all the time in his fights. You can bet that Briedis will be looking to shift the angles to catch Perez off guard in a similar manner on Saturday. Briedis doesn’t need to use tricks for him to nail his opponents. He does it anyway.
With the hometown advantage and his familiarly at fighting at cruiserweight, Briedis will have a huge advantage in this fight. Perez has lost a lot of weight to come down to cruiserweight. He dropped over 40 lbs. That’s a ton of weight to lose. Briedis being a true cruiserweight is going to help him win this fight. The home advantage will help Briedis in a big way. My prediction is Briedis by 6th round knockout. It would be a real shocker if Briedis loses this fight. He’s looked unbeatable recently. Perez is ring rusty coming into the fight with just 1 fight in the last 2 years.