Mairis Briedis wants rematch against Oleksandr Usyk
By Allan Fox: Mairis Briedis (23-1, 18 KOs) says he wants a rematch with WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk (14-0, 11 KOs) after losing to him by a 12 round majority decision on Saturday night at the Riga Arena in Riga, Latvia. Briedis lost his WBC cruiserweight title in the defeat in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series [WBSS] tournament.
Both fighters were bruised up around the eyes after the fight. Usyk surprisingly looked worse after the fight than Briedis with his two black eyes. Usyk took some heavy shots in the fight.
Briedis says he thought the fight was even, and he’s hoping that Usyk will fight him again. The judges saw the fight differently, however, in giving it to Usyk by the scores 115-113, 115-113, 114-114. Usyk appeared to do enough to win a close 12 round decision. However, I would favor Briedis to beat him in a rematch, because he has more room to improve by simply throwing more punches, and he has the much better punching power.
Usyk still has one more fight ahead of him in the finals of the WBSS tournament against the winner of the Murat Gassiev v. Yunioer Dorticos fight in the semifinals. Usyk wasn’t asked tonight if he still intends on moving up to the heavyweight division after the tournament is over, but it’s likely that’s what his plans are. That doesn’t mean Mairis will never get a chance to rematch Usyk. What it does mean is he probably will need to move up to heavyweight for him to get a shot at a second fight, as that’s what Usyk is heading if he wins the World Boxing Super Series on May 11th in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Usyk doesn’t have long to wait before he gets his shot at the winner of the Gassiev-Dorticos fight. Usyk is going to need to fight a lot better against the Gassiev vs. Dorticos winner than he did tonight if he wants to win the WBSS tournament. When/if Usyk moves up to heavyweight, he’ll need to fight even better for him to be able to compete against the best fighter in that division.
“I think I came into the fight a bit too calm,” Briedis said at the post-fight press conference discussing his loss to Usyk. “Maybe that’s the thing that went a bit wrong. I think this is a fight that we should do again. Hopefully, we can,” Briedis said.
Briedis fought well in round 1, but then he seemed to let off and not through enough punches to win rounds in rounds 2-5. Briedis gave up those rounds by not doing enough. Briedis fought well in round 6, but then he disappeared in rounds 7-8, 10 and 11. Usyk took those rounds by throwing more punches. Briedis looked tired, and unable to keep up with Usyk.
“Those are the most difficult rounds I’ve had in my career and we will work on the improvement of my style,” Usyk said after the fight
Usyk landed 212 of 848 punches for a 25 percent connect rate. In comparison, Briedis landed 195 of 579 shots for a 34 percent connect percentage. Usyk threw 269 more punches than Briedis. That was the difference in the fight. Usyk was seen by the judges as being the busier fighter. Briedis landed almost as many punches, but the judges were impressed by Usyk’s volume punching.
”I thought the fight was very even, but I guess the judges know better,” Briedis said. ”But this will be a bit of motivation for me moving forward to get better prepared for the upcoming fights. There will be no vacation,” Briedis said.
The good news for Briedis is there aren’t too many fighters in the cruiserweight division that throw as many punches as Usyk. Briedis will have an excellent chance of recapturing his WBC cruiserweight title once Usyk vacates his World Boxing Council title and moves up to heavyweight if he moves up. Once Usyk gives up his WBC strap, Briedis will likely face Krzyszof Glowacki for the vacant WBC title. That’ll be a tough fight for Briedis, but it’ll be a winnable one for sure. If Usyk chooses to stay at 200 to continue his career in this weight class, then Briedis will eventually get a shot at him to try and win back the WBC title.
“It was a beautiful evening,” Usyk said.“I got another belt to my collection. It was a beautiful fight. It was a very beautiful fight. Mairis is a very good athlete.”
Usyk does not look like he’s going to hold onto his WBC and WBO cruiserweight titles for long. Gassiev and Dorticos are going to be a huge headache for Usyk, because they hit harder, and they’ll have an excellent chance of beating him by either a knockout or by winning rounds based on their harder landing shots. Whether Usyk will want to still move up to the heavyweight division following a loss in the WBSS tournament is the magic question. It’s not going to be the end of the world for Usyk if he gets beaten in the WBSS tournament.
Usyk can still go up to heavyweight and eventually get ranked high enough for him to get a title shot against IBF, WBA heavyweight champion Anthony Joshua. It’s just going to look bad for the 31-year-old Usyk to move up to heavyweight if he fails in the WBSS tournament. If Usyk’s goal is to get a big payday and retire from it, then he should move up to heavyweight as soon as the tournament concludes and try and work his way into a #1 position to challenge for one of Joshua’s titles. I don’t think it would be a clever idea for Usyk to go after WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, as the money wouldn’t be as good.