Latvia’s only ever world champion is thee Cruiserweight Champion of the World 🇱🇻Mairis Briedis (28-1-0, 20KO), and he made his return back on his soil to defend his RING/IBF Cruiserweight world titles officially for the first time, after winning the WBSS tournament, and the Muhammad Ali trophy 13 months ago. He faced off against IBF #1 contender 🇩🇪Artur Mann (17-2-0, 9KO) of Germany, and stopped him by overpowering him with physical strength, and a sustained attack to the body until until he succumbed to the weight of the blows in the 3rd round, for Briedis’s 1st RING title defense.
The first round started off tame, but interestingly enough, Mann was having some success shooting the counter right hand immediately over Briedis left jab. Mairis started to let his hands go a bit at the end of the round. Mairis began to press forward with the power jab, and lead right hands, looking to get the timing down on the German opponent, who himself was being very careful with his punch selection. As you know, there is no flash to Briedis whatsoever, but everything he does carries some type of effect. Without opening up much, he managed to speed Mann up a bit, out his comfort zone.
Mann once again scored a nice lead right hand to Briedis cheek in the second round when Briedis made the mistake of shooting the jab to the body from too far out, presenting a lane for Mann to fit his shot in. Mairis took it well, but it was impressive in seeing how the challenger can read and react to what his opponent is doing in live time.
Everything started going downhill for Artur in the round when Briedis raked him with a sharp left hook to the body, forcing Mann to get happy feet. After calculated pressure applied by Briedis, he hit Mann with a strong counter-right hand, causing a delayed reaction, forcing Mann to make the decision of taking the 8-count on his knee. He was cleared to continue, but Briedis wasn’t able to get there to continue to punish due to the bell ringing.
The third round, Mairis really started to get up in his chest, forcing Mann to keep his hands at home, to where Briedis did some heavy digging underneath the elbows, bodyshots that seemed to effect Mann. Briedis opened up in combination, sneaking in a couple extra body punches that dropped Mann for the second time in the fight. Artur got up…but that’s when Briedis began to bludgeon Artur around the ring, who longer gave any resistance for the World Champion to worry about in terms of return fire.
Briedis punches sounded especially heavy today, and his raw physical strength was too much for Mann, who collapsed under the punishment late in the 3rd stanza, and collapsed by the turnbuckle for a 3rd knockdown. After getting up, he went back down to the mat during the count. Looking worse for wear, once the Referee administered the 8-count, he took one look at the battered fighter, and waived the fight off, thus Briedis securing the victory – his first title defense as the RING/IBF Cruiserweight World Champion.
Where does the 36 year old King among the Cruiserweights go from here there was extensive talk about him moving up to Heavyweight…to the point that it was a foregone conclusion, before he surprisingly stuck around to take a Mann fight for a title defense. Either moving up will be his next move…or he will open up to the prospects of fighting British unbeaten WBO Cruiserweight title holder 🇬🇧Lawrence Okolie, who is itching for a big fight. Considering who harbors at the top of the division, for both…this is arguably the best opponent that they could pull into the ring (at Cruiserweight)…so Briedis has a field of options that he has to mull over.