After being bogged down by sanctioning body issues that delayed the second-season final of the World Boxing Super Series cruiserweight tournament for months, the fight has been scheduled.
Yunier Dorticos will defend his 200-pound world title against former two-time world titlist Mairis Briedis on March 21 (DAZN), with the Muhammad Ali Trophy also going to the winner, at the Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia, Briedis’ hometown, the World Boxing Super Series announced Friday.
The fight, however, will not be a title unification bout as originally intended. That is because Briedis was stripped of his version of the world title by the WBO in late November.
Briedis controversially stopped former world titlist Krzysztof Glowacki in the third round on June 15 in the semifinals of the eight-man tournament in Riga. Glowacki appealed the result, and the WBO, after reviewing the fight, ordered an immediate rematch.
However, Briedis is under contract to the WBSS for the tournament and would be in breach of that agreement if he tried to go ahead with the rematch, which would be worth far less money than what he will earn to fight Dorticos. So Briedis will still fight Dorticos in the final, but with only Dorticos’ belt at stake.
The final was originally planned for this past Dec. 14 but was delayed awaiting the outcome of Glowacki’s appeal.
The fight will bring an end to the three tournaments put on by the World Boxing Super Series in its second season.
“The conclusion of Season 2 of the WBSS is going to be nothing but spectacular,” said Kalle Sauerland, the WBSS chief boxing officer. “After two epic Ali Trophy finals — Regis Prograis versus Josh Taylor and Naoya Inoue versus Nonito Donaire — it’s time to crown the cruiserweight champion of the WBSS. As we have become accustomed, whoever raises the Muhammad Ali Trophy at the end will become the man to beat in the division.”
Taylor outpointed Prograis in a tremendous action fight to unify two junior welterweight world titles on Oct. 26 in London. Inoue outslugged Donaire to win a decision and unify two bantamweight titles on Nov. 7 in Saitama, Japan, in the 2019 fight of the year.
The 34-year-old Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) defeated Noel Mikaelian by unanimous decision in the WBSS quarterfinals in November 2018 before stopping Glowacki in the controversial semifinal.
“I’m really looking forward to the final,” said Briedis, the tournament No. 1 seed. “It is fantastic for Latvia to be able to host an event of such magnitude. Millions and millions of eyes worldwide will be watching what’s happening at the Arena Riga on fight night. It is going to be a thrilling fight as I’m facing one of the very best cruiserweights on the planet. The stake is so high and both of us are only looking for one thing — to win it all.”
Nicknamed “The KO Doctor,” Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs), 33, a Cuban fighting out of Miami, narrowly outpointed Mateusz Masternak in the semifinals in October 2018 before scoring a sensational 10th-round knockout of the Floyd Mayweather-promoted Andrew Tabiti to win a vacant world title in the semifinals on June 15 on the undercard of Briedis-Glowacki.
“Briedis, you better prepare yourself for war,” said Dorticos, the No. 2 seed. “Let’s give all the fans around the world a spectacular all time classic. Come fight night you will know why I’m called the ‘KO Doctor.’ The Muhammad Ali Trophy has my name engraved already.”
Briedis and Dorticos both advanced to the semifinals of the first-season WBSS cruiserweight tournament before being eliminated, but each returned and reached the final.