The king of the cruiserweight division is set to defend his throne.
Mairis Brieidis attempts the first defense of his third title reign, facing fringe contender Artur Mann in his first fight since claiming the lineal crown and IBF title more than a year ago. Both boxers easily made weight for the cruiserweight championship, which takes place Saturday evening at Arena Riga in Briedis’ hometown of Riga, Latvia.
Briedis checked in at a shredded 198 ½ pounds, while Mann weighed 198.9 pounds in his title bid.
The bout ends lengthy inactive stretches for both participants.
Briedis (27-1, 19KOs) has not fought since lifting the IBF title from Yuniel Dorticos last September 25 in Munich, winning the second season of World Boxing Super Series while also reestablishing championship lineage in the cruiserweight division.
The win was the fourth straight for Briedis following the lone loss of his career, a twelve-round, majority decision to Oleksandr Usyk in their January 2018 WBSS Season One semifinal bout. The defeat ended his first title reign, which lasted just nine months beginning with a decision win over Marco Huck to win the vacant WBC title and featuring just one successful title defense— a points win over Mike Perez in September 2017 at the start of the first WBSS tournament.
Briedis entered a second title reign following a controversial third-round knockout of Krzysztof Glowacki in June 2019 at this very venue. The win saw Briedis claim the WBO title, though lasting less than six months before he was forced to vacate after failing to honor the sanctioning body’s ruling on an ordered rematch with Glowacki. Briedis chose to instead follow the path of the WBSS Season Two tournament, though his final round bout with Dorticos wound up delayed by several months due to the pandemic.
Mann (17-1, 9KOs) steps well up in class for his first recognized title fight. The 31-year-old Kazakhstan-born cruiserweight—who now lives and fights out of Hannover, Germany—suffered his lone career defeat in a bid for the IBO cruiserweight title, a fourth-round stoppage at the hands of Kevin Lerena in their March 2019 clash in Kempton Park, South Africa.
A modest two-fight win streak has followed for Mann, who has not fought since a third-round knockout of Rad Rashid last June in Charlottenburg, Germany.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox