FARCICAL officiating, and a hefty portion of dirty fighting, wrecked the WBO cruiserweight title fight between Mairis Briedis and Krzysztof Glowacki as the former rampaged to a violent third round victory that was both triggered and tarnished by an ugly elbow to the skull.
With less than a minute remaining in round two the pair locked arms, southpaw Glowacki thumped Briedis on the back of the head with his spare left, before the Latvian trumped the foul-fest with a short and sharp blow with his elbow.
Glowacki turned away and dropped first to his knees, and then his face. The dramatic collapse perhaps convinced veteran referee Robert Byrd that the Pole was over-egging his discomfort as he yelled at the champion to get up. Even so, to make such a presumption was wrong from the esteemed referee; replays quickly showed the impact was hefty enough to discombobulate.
Bottom line, the blow was blatantly illegal. It was not disguised on the end of a wayward hook, this was an elbow-first whack, as Breidis drew back his right arm and slammed it into the side of his opponent’s head. Byrd standing over Glowacki and ordering him to rise would have been forgivable had he been officiating a bar fight doused in lager and nub ends, but while in charge of a boxing match with a world title and a place in the World Boxing Super Series final at stake, it was not.
That Glowacki’s own illegal punch, which started the law-breaking extravaganza, was also overlooked by the referee should make interesting viewing when the bout is reviewed by authorities.
“I think the referee didn’t do nothing [about the blow to the back of my head] then I did a little bit of a dirty punch but I’m sorry for how I responded, it’s my old Muay Thai style,” admitted the 34-year-old Breidis, who is a hero of the highest order to his native Latvia where this contest was staged in the Riga Arena.
It has since been reported by Boxing Scene that Andrew Wasilewski, Glowacki’s promoter, is in the process of filing a formal complaint with WBSS, the WBO and the Latvian Professional Boxing Federation, who commissioned the bout. Undoubtedly, with the WBSS tournament format dictating a tight schedule, a rematch is not ideal. True also that this is a combat sport and illegal punches are part and parcel of the trade. But for the sake of justice – not always a prevalent concern in this crazy sport – a sequel should be a necessity.
If that occurs the hard-hitting Breidis will fancy his chances. The manner in which he set about the dazed 32-year-old when the action resumed was designed to end matters quickly. Perfectly legal blows sent Glowacki down twice more before the session ended under confusing circumstances which provide another nod to Byrd’s poor form.
The Pole’s corner believed the round had overran and entered the ring. The referee then signalled the contest was over before telling Glowacki to go to his stool for the minute’s rest. Meanwhile, Breidis calmly drank water, refilled his lungs with deep breaths, and prepared to apply the finishing touches to the mugging.
It came 27 seconds into the third. Glowacki, still hurt, attempted to go to work behind his lead but he was effortlessly countered by his energised rival. A savage right hand arced through the Pole’s arms and landed with a thud. Glowacki twisted cinematically before landing awkwardly, his forehead on the canvas and his arms out wide. The referee, at last, did the right thing and waved the contest off.
TALKING POINT: Briedis-Glowacki was also set to be for the vacant WBC title until the sanctioning body’s president, Mauricio Sulaiman, withdrew the belt on the eve of the bout after a row with WBSS over the officials. Citing an “abuse of power” by the WBSS, Sulaiman felt the WBO installing three of the four officials in a unification bout, in Briedis’ home town, was a serious conflict of interests.
Should Breidis’ victory stand, he will face Yuniel Dorticos in the WBSS final after the Cuban knocked out Las Vegas’ Andrew Tabiti in the 10th round of their battle for the vacant IBF cruiserweight title. The finish, applied with a devastating right hand, illustrated exactly why Dorticos is known as the “KO Doctor”.
Tabiti, unbeaten in 17 bouts beforehand, was safety-first for much of the contest and paid the price when he attacked late in the bout. Carelessly loading up with a telegraphed right, Dorticos dinked to the side and countered the oncoming punch with one of his own which was altogether more smartly crafted. It landed flush, sending the North American both to sleep and to the canvas. Tabiti did not stir for several concerning moments.
Dorticos was frustrated at times by his opponent, particularly in the opening round, but his menacing attacks soon gained control of a cagey encounter. A clash of heads in the sixth left the former WBA secondary belt holder with a cut under his right eyebrow. Tabiti, increasingly negative, lost a point for holding as Dorticos, 33, targeted the body with growing spite.
The 29-year-old – whose biggest win was a 2017 controversial 10-round decision over veteran Steve Cunningham – took some time to recover from a low blow in the seventh. But Dorticos continued to dictate the pace and distance, hitting the target with thumping leads before concluding matters spectacularly in the 10th.
THE VERDICT: Dorticos scores one of the knockouts of the year while Briedis can celebrate with a contender for foul of the decade.
Mairis Briedis (198 1/4lbs), 26-1 (19), w rsf 3 Krzysztof Glowacki (197 1/2lbs), 31-2 (19); Yuniel Dorticos (199 1/4lbs), 24-1 (22), w ko 10 Andrew Tabiti (199 1/4lbs), 17-1 (13); Ricards Bolotniks (177 3/4lbs), 14-5-1 (6), w rsf 6 Gasan Gasanov (177 1/2lbs), 16-8-1 (13); Noel Gevor (200lbs), 24-2 (10), w pts 8 Isossa Mondo (200lbs), 7-20 (3); Nikolajs Grisunins (201 3/4lbs), 11-1-1 (5), w pts 6 Vaclav Pejsar (198 1/2lbs), 14-8 (12); Jevgenijs Aleksejevs (170 3/4lbs), 11-0 (6), w pts 6 Siarhei Khamitski (167lbs), 32-18-3 (14); Marcis Grundulis (139lbs), 6-0 (1), w pts 4 Evgenii Vazem (142 1/4lbs), 8-7 (3).