As cruiserweight king Mairis Briedis eyes a rematch with Oleksandr Usyk, the Latvian icon gives Boxing Social his take on this weekend’s showdown between Usyk and Dereck Chisora…
From his position as king of the cruiserweight division, Mairis Briedis is considering his options.
The Latvian folk hero produced one of the finest pure boxing performances of the year in September to defeat Cuban power-puncher Yuniel Dorticos on points in the finale of the World Boxing Super Series Season 2 cruiser tourney.
It was a victory that brought Briedis widespread acclaim, as well as the Muhammad Ali trophy, the IBF world title and The Ring magazine belt. By common consent it was also a win that created a new title lineage at 200lbs, previous champion Oleksandr Usyk having moved up to heavyweight last year.
The 35-year-old Briedis will be a particularly interested viewer this weekend when old foe Usyk faces Dereck Chisora at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London, in his second bout at heavyweight.
Briedis has teased the possibility of following Usyk into the unlimited weight class net year. If he was do so, many fans would relish a rematch between the Ukrainian and the Latvian, who met in a classic showdown in January 2018 in Season 1 of the World Boxing Super Series. On that occasion, Usyk won by the thinnest of majority decisions, with many at ringside scoring the fight a draw, or in Briedis’ favour.
It is the closest that ‘The Cat’ has come to tasting professional defeat, and Briedis himself has argued that a rematch could “possibly be the fight of the century”.
Usyk is not the Latvian’s only option, however.
Another of his old rivals, Krzysztof Głowacki is due to meet Lawrence Okolie for the WBO title on December 12. A contest between Brieidis and the victor of that contest would certainly be a marketable proposition – even more so should Usyk lose against Chisora this weekend.
So how does Briedis believe Usyk will fare against the mercurial Chisora?
“Usyk will do what he’s used to doing – moving around and jabbing a lot, I don’t think we’ll see any surprises from him,” the Latvian told Boxing Social on the eve of the heavyweight showdown.
“I’ve noticed that Chisora has gotten himself more dangerous and powerful punching power since working with David Haye. It can be seen in his last fights. Otherwise, he’s not very technical and not very fast, but his power and physique are there and those are weapons that – in theory, if played right – could be enough for him to win the fight. But only in theory!”
Although he acknowledges that Chisora is the underdog, Briedis maps out a possible route to victory for the 36-year-old Brit.
“If Chisora manages to get Usyk in corner in the first rounds and land something, he can pose a real danger to Usyk. But if he just moves around, doesn’t go forwards very aggressively and just waits to land something, it will be a long night for him, as Usyk will work him from distance easily.
“The only option I can see for Chisora is to push Usyk while he has his stamina in place. He needs to not give him an inch to breathe. Otherwise, Usyk will answer every one of Chisora’s punches with a series of two or three jabs if given space.”
Hedging his bets somewhat, Briedis concluded: “Some things we don’t know. We don’t know what physical condition they are both in, how good their camps were or if they have any injuries, for example.
“But all things being equal, it’s either Chisora’s power early or a tough night for him trying to get to Usyk for the rest of the 12 rounds.”