Fighting for the first time in a little over a year, IBF and Ring Magazine cruiserweight champ Mairis Briedis scored an impressive third-round stoppage win over Germany’s Artur Mann last night in Riga, Latvia. Fighting for the first time since he competed in The World Boxing Super-Series tournament in 2020, Briedis gave his home town fans plenty to cheer about.
Briedis, beaten only by the superb Olkesandr Usyk, dropped Mann in the second-round, then finished his challenger off with a brutal barrage in the following session. Now 28-1(20), 36 year old Briedis still has ideas of moving up to the heavyweight division, while he still wants some big fights and big paydays at 200 pounds. 31 year old Mann, who gave it a go, falls to 17-2(9), with both losses coming inside the distance.
Briedis, a pro since way back in 2009, showed he has quite a lot left to offer at this relatively late stage in his career. Also, in light of how hard and difficult a fight he gave Usyk back in January of 2018, when Briedis dropped a majority decision to the Ukrainian southpaw, this being perhaps the most challenging fight of Usyk’s pro career, the planned move to heavyweight is a quite fascinating one. Might Briedis get a second chance to beat Usyk some time?
Usyk, who is a couple of inches taller than Briedis, showed us all how skills and a superb game-plan can beat a juggernaut of a heavyweight, and Briedis is sure to have taken great confidence after seeing what Usyk did in his winning fight with Anthony Joshua last month. Can Briedis become the fourth cruiserweight champ to win a major heavyweight title (following Evander Holyfield, David Haye and Usyk)? Maybe he can.
Of course, the reigning heavyweight champions are all busy for the considerable future. Maybe Briedis will look to get himself one or two more big fights at cruiserweight before he makes his move north? Briedis has given us some great action fights (and some rough stuff) but there could be more glory to come.