WITH its bantam and super-lightweight finalists decided, the World Boxing Super Series holds its cruiserweight semis on Saturday (June 15) at the Riga Arena in Latvia’s capital.
And a tournament that has already delivered quality entertainment looks set to continue that trend, if one can rely on the participants’ records: the cruiser final four combine for an impressive 96 wins and just three defeats (one each for three of the quartet).
Home interest centres on Mairis Briedis against Polish southpaw Krzysztof Glowacki, but the other semi also holds plenty of intrigue, pitting Cuban banger Yunier Dorticos against unbeaten American Andrew Tabiti.
Briedis will be the man most fans have come to see, yet he faces no easy task in Glowacki (who should also have support in the hall, given Poland is not far from Latvia). For both men, their lone setback came against the outstanding Oleksandr Usyk; Briedis via majority decision in the semi-final of the first WBSS tournament in January 2018, and Glowacki on a unanimous verdict in a September 2016 WBO title challenge. Given what Usyk has gone on to achieve – dominate Murat Gassiev in the first WBSS final and hammer Tony Bellew into retirement – it’s not a bad result for either man, and avoiding defeat on one judge’s card actually looks even more impressive for Briedis.
Usyk’s recent move up to heavyweight has led to an upgrade in the titles at stake on Saturday: Glowacki now comes in as the full WBO champ (he was previously Interim) and the vacant WBC belt is now also on the line.
It’s always possible Usyk may have taken something out of both; Glowacki didn’t look particularly good beating Serhiy Radchenko in January 2018 – he got dropped en route to an eight-round points victory over the six-fight novice – while 10 months later Briedis escaped with a controversial decision over Noel Gevor in the WBSS quarter-final. But against each other they should make a good fight, with Glowacki the slicker boxer and Briedis the puncher.
Both men have been campaigning at world level for several years now. Glowacki holds world title wins over Marco Huck (KO 11 rounds) and Steve Cunningham (points), while Briedis has beaten Huck (points) and tricky Cuban Mike Perez (also over the 12-round distance) in championship contests.
Glowacki’s portsided stance could be a factor in Saturday’s fight. Briedis did lose to a southpaw in Usyk, but against that he beat two left-handers in Perez and Gevor. Yet the Perez win wasn’t overly impressive, and for many he was lucky against Gevor (even if both victories were unanimous).
Briedis and Glowacki are more or less the same height and have an identical reach, but Briedis is noticeably the more muscular. He possesses a good left hook, especially to the body, and while he likes to come forward he is much more than a crude slugger. For his part, Glowacki isn’t very fast, and does tend to hold his right hand low, but he definitely carries power in his left hand. And the Pole is unlikely to be fazed by boxing in Riga – he fought there in September 2017, stopping Italy’s Leonardo Damian Bruzzese in the fifth of a routine 10-rounder.
With both men boasting a sound chin, a distance fight is likely. Briedis will carry the action to Glowacki, but will have to beware the Pole’s crafty counters as he comes in. Chances are he will avoid them often enough, and land enough of his own power shots, to earn a close and possibly contested decision in a gruelling fight.
Also tricky to pick is Dorticos against Tabiti in the other 12-rounder. Dorticos, 33, has notched 21 of his 23 wins inside the distance, most notably when he flattened Russian hardman Dmitry Kudryashov in two rounds in a quarter-final of the first WBSS cruiserweight tournament.
But the semi-final five months later (February 2018) brought crushing defeat when another Russian, Murat Gassiev, wore him down and stopped him in the 12th round to take his WBA crown. The Miami-based Cuban’s height and reach advantages (he’s 6ft 3ins and has an 80in wingspan) kept him in the fight for a long time but, in the end, counted for nothing as Gassiev caught up with him.
Dorticos has boxed once since then, unanimously outpointing Mateusz Masternak, the well-travelled Pole who lost to Tony Bellew for the European title in 2015. His only other win via the distance route had come in 2014 over 10 rounds against Colombian tough guy Edison Miranda, a former middleweight who has mixed with the best in several divisions (and was stopped in nine by Bellew at light-heavy).
Tabiti, 29, nicknamed “Beast”, is much less experienced, even if he has won all 17 contests (13 early). Chicago-born, he fights out of Las Vegas with Floyd Mayweather’s team and winning his tournament quarter-final against a Russian in Russia (Ruslan Fayfer, points) suggests he won’t be fazed by boxing in Latvia.
However, his only other really big win was against faded former champ Cunningham, on points in 2017, so his lack of seasoning may be exposed if Dorticos can drag him into deep waters. With Tabiti conceding two inches in height and three-and-a-half inches in reach, the pick is for Dorticos to control matters at range for a points victory.
Sauerland and LNK Boxing share promotional duties.
The Verdict The Eastern Europeans in particular should combine for an entertaining battle.