Briedis wins in Riga

Latvia's champion cruiserweight Mairis Briedis retained his world title in the early hours of October 1 in a hard-fought encounter with Cuban Mike Perez.

Boxing in front of an adoring capacity home crowd, the Riga policeman won a unanimous decision from the judges after 12 rounds of very competitive action.

Early exchanges were even but Briedis gradually asserted more authority as the fight progressed and few would doubt that the ultimate result was correct, though Perez deserves credit for a gritty showing away from home and with virtually no support of his own within the packed-out arena and after a lengthy absence from the ring. 

Both fighters were docked a point: Perez for a clash of heads that opened a cut under his opponent's eye and Briedis for a low blow. 

The champion succeeded thanks to the consistency with which he was able to pick off Perez as he advanced, then in the latter stages the Cuban's inferior stamina began to tell and Briedis looked more comfortable.

Briedis rightly won the decision, prompting ecstatic scenes within the arena, and will now face the much tougher proposition of facing Ukraine's unbeaten Oleksandr Usyk in a unification fight that will see the WBO belt held by Usyk and the IBO and WBC belts held by Briedis on the line. 

The match was part of a tournament called the 'World Boxing Super Series' (WBSS) a new annual boxing tournament bringing together the ‘best of the best’ fighters to compete at venues around the world.  A total of 16 elite boxers from two weight classes (Cruiserweight and Super Middleweight) will battle it out on fourteen separate fight nights in a bracket-style elimination tournament – with the winner in each division crowned in May 2018.

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