BEHIND closed doors at the Plazamedia Broadcasting Center in Munich, Germany, cruiserweight standouts Yuniel Dorticos and Mairis Briedis met in the final of Team Sauerland’s World Boxing Super Series.
Having both been beaten at the semi-final stage in the first WBSS cruiser tournament in 2017/18, the hard-hitting, high-quality duo were each desperate to get their hands on the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy. In the end, it was Briedis who rightfully came out on top over the distance in what was a thoroughly watchable and engaging encounter, despite a lack of thrills and spills.
Defending IBF titlist Dorticos took the centre of the ring in the opener and pumped out long jabs, followed up by the occasional heavy right. Briedis responded by striking a lead left through his opponent’s guard late in the session.
In the second, a solid left hook from the unpredictable Briedis was well blocked by Dorticos, who cleverly kept his right glove high to parry the strike. Briedis drove a brace of short rights into Dorticos’ skull in round three, before tagging him with a clumping hook and uppercut in quick succession.
Dorticos jabbed to the head and body to kick off the fourth frame. The Miami-based Cuban continually stalked Briedis and sunk a spiteful left hook into the Latvian’s ribs. Both boxers scored with clean rights as the action began to heat up.
Having been on the move for the most part in the preceding four rounds, Briedis attempted to mix up his approach and hold his ground more in the fifth. The 35-year-old stabbed at Dorticos with fast jabs, often modified into compact hooks. Towards the ending of the sixth, Briedis connected with a crunching right uppercut, though the languid Dorticos took it well.
Slipping and sliding to good effect, Briedis slammed a big right upstairs in round seven, causing Dorticos to grab hold. Briedis thrusted out a forceful left-right combination in the eighth, while the dangerous Dorticos, nicknamed “The KO Doctor”, continued to press forward, looking to land his powerful right hand. On a couple of occasions, the 34-year-old managed to corner Briedis and unload with both fists.
A booming overhand right thundered into Dorticos in the ninth, but the two-time world champion demonstrated a sturdy chin to soak it up. Twice Briedis came close to hitting the target with his signature right uppercut, yet Dorticos intelligently evaded it.
Marked up under his left eye, Briedis put his punches together impressively in round 10 and moved laterally to sidestep Dorticos’ lengthy jabs. The former kickboxer picked his shots smartly in the next stanza too, varying his attacks up top and to the midsection.
Heading into the 12th and final round, Dorticos was in need of a knockout or stoppage, with Briedis in a commanding position on the scorecards. Well aware of this, the Riga resident saw out the remaining three minutes in a composed fashion, with the tiring Dorticos unable to deliver anything of note.
Although judge Joerg Milke surprisingly had the contest level at 114-114, this tally was correctly overridden by his colleagues, Mikael Hook and Matteo Montella, who each marked Briedis as a 117-111 winner, as did Boxing News. Leszek Jankowiak was the referee.
Upon being presented with the Muhammad Ali Trophy and the IBF title after the bout, a delighted Briedis beamed: “This feels like a dream.” For the now-three-time world cruiserweight king, it was a night when dreams became reality.
THE VERDICT Briedis cements his standing as the premier 200-pounder on the planet.
Mairis Briedis (198lbs 14oz), 27-1 (19), w pts 12 Yuniel Dorticos (199 3/4lbs), 24-2 (22); Denis Radovan (158 3/4lbs), 14-0-1 (6), w pts 10 Nuhu Lawal (166lbs), 27-8 (15); Leon Bunn (170lbs 3oz), 16-0 (8), w pts 8 Timo Laine (170lbs 7oz), 27-14 (11) 1NC; Sophie Alisch (125 1/4lbs), 6-0 (1), w pts 8 Edina Kiss (125lbs 11oz), 15-14 (9).