Cruiserweight and WBC champion Oleksandr Usyk remained unbeaten and advanced to the final of the World Boxing Super Series, in a thrilling fight hosted in Riga, Latvia. The 31 year old Ukrainian was challenging hometown fighter and WBO champion Mairis Briedis, and both fighters put on a fantastic display through 12 grueling rounds..
Latvian Briedis, who was also unbeaten going into the fight started the quicker of the two, forcing Usyk onto the back foot early on. Usyk soon started to stand his ground though, with the pair going toe to toe by the middle rounds. It was Briedis who seemed to be doing more damage in the exchanges though, throwing right and left hooks that appeared to trouble his 31 year old opponent.
Into the 6th round and Usyk stepped up the pace. He started utilizing his impressive jab and also attacked Briedis to the body, trying to slow down the Latvian’s assaults. The pair continued to thrill the sell out crowd, with head and body shots traded by both fighters. Into the 9th and Briedis unloaded a vicious uppercut that should have sent Usyk to the canvas. The Ukrainian took the shot well though and unbelievably continued to come forward.
The championship rounds saw Briedis and Usyk continue to slug it out, with neither fighter taking a backwards step. American referee Kenny Bayliss was simply a spectator, with the pair eventually trading over 1400 punches between them. Neither man deserved to lose and a draw would have been the correct decision, as the judges cards were announced. Eventually, the verdict was given to Usyk by the smallest of margins, 115-113,115-113 and 114-114. He will now face the winner of the second semi final on February 3rd, when Murat Gassiev takes on Yunie Dorticos. The cruiserweight final will be held in Saudi Arabia on May 11th.