Oleksandr Usyk and Mairis Breidis meet head-up in a cruiserweight unification bout at Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia. Back in July 2017 this division sparked a buzz amongst avid followers of the sport once it was revealed all major sanctioning bodies would be involved in the World Boxing Super Series. The ho-hum quarterfinals played out as more of opportunity to get all 4-fighters on the same schedule. Now the time has come for the big boys to find out if they measure up versus the elite.
Most media members would agree the word elite, is a term that can only be used to describe Oleksandr Usyk. The Ukraine native is on the fast-track as pro, proclaiming he will win the World Boxing Super Series. But it doesn’t stop there. Usyk also plans to move to heavyweight claiming he can topple the face of heavies, Anthony Joshua. Let’s not get that far ahead by completely disrespecting the challenges that lie ahead.
Mairis Briedis is an unbeaten fighter with decent skills and pretty good pop. He doesn’t have the amateur pedigree of Usyk, that’s not to say he is completely outmatched in this semifinal bout. Briedis does have a few items in his tool-belt worth mentioning. For one it usually doesn’t hurt to fight in your home country and per Dan Rafael’s write-up, this is being billed as the biggest boxing event in Latvia history. So don’t be surprised to see one if not two of scorecards to be shady as hell.
The fact that Usyk possess fluidity rarely seen at the heavier weight classes, there’s no need for Mairis to attempt to match that. Instead of engaging in a skills-fest smack-dab in middle of the ring, Briedis will need to use professional roughhouse tactics. In his bout against Marco Huck, Briedis gave us a glimpse of a hold-and-hit strategy. There’s absolutely no reason to give Usyk room to punch and find his rhythm.
Lateral movement from Briedis will make Usyk be the lead fighter, which at least forces the Ukrainian out of his comfort zone to an extent. When stationary, Briedis needs to close distance, tie up, and position the top of his head directly in Usyk’s chest. This hack of a scribe just doesn’t see any other way for Briedis to get a victory, at least on the up-and-up.
If Mairis can build on the moments Michael Hunter had with Usyk you just never know. It should be noted although Hunter had limited success, he took a hell of a beating. Slowing down the fight to a snail’s pace and relying on a few rounds swung Briedis’s way from some good ole home ‘Latvia’ cooking is the only way possible.
Ultimately, as the saying goes, skills pay the bills and even if Usyk struggles to find his range early he will adjust and begin to tag the Latvian with flush shots over and over again.
My Official Prediction is Oleksandr Usyk by Majority Decision.
Written by Chris Carlson Host/Producer of The Rope A Dope Radio Podcast Available on Apple Podcast (ITunes), Player.FM, Stitcher, Tunein, Spreaker www.blogtalkradio.com/ropeadoperadio & TheGruelingTruth.Net. Sports Network! Follow on Twitter @RopeADopeRadio