The World Boxing Super Series and the cruiserweight division have been a largely successful marriage.
The structure, format, and matches have allowed for the division to define itself in the ring over the last three years. The original WBSS tournament in the class crowned a clear, true world champion in a field that featured six of the then-top ten fighters in the class according to TBRB. The sequel, despite the loss of Oleksandr Usyk and Murat Gassiev, had the same ratio in its favor.
And, just as was the case the first time, it ends in a final featuring the top two seeds with a vacant lineal crown at stake (DAZN, 3 PM EST). Whether this is just the end of this tournament or the end of the WBSS experiment, it’s a pick ‘em main event with the potential to be the fight of the day on the most active Saturday of 2020.
Let’s get into it.
Stats and Stakes
Previous Titles: WBC cruiserweight (2017-18, 1 Defense); WBO Cruiserweight (2019)
Weight: 198 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Riga, Latvia
Record: 26-1, 19 KO
Press Rankings: #1 (TBRB, Ring, Boxing Monthly, BoxRec), #2 (ESPN)
WBSS Seed: 1
Record in Major Title Fights: 3-1, 1 KO
Last Five Opponents: 100-5-2 (.944)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Marco Huck UD12; Oleksandr Usyk L12; Krzysztof Glowacki TKO3
Title: IBF Cruiserweight (2019-Present, 1st Attempted Defense)
Previous Titles: WBA cruiserweight (2016-18, 1 Defense)
Weight: 199 ¾ lbs.
Hails from: Miami, Florida (Born in Cuba)
Record: 24-1, 22 KO, 1 KOBY
Press Rankings: #1 (ESPN), #2 (TBRB, Ring, Boxing Monthly), #4 (BoxRec)
WBSS Seed: 2
Record in Major Title Fights: 2-1, 2 KO, 1 KOBY (3-1, 3 KO, 1 KOBY including interim title fights)
Last Five Opponents: 126-7 (.947)
Current/Former World Champions/Titlists Faced: Murat Gassiev TKO by 12
The Pick: Both men arrive in the final off the exact same layoff and a knockout win. Dorticos got his a little cleaner, with Briedis lucky to not be disqualified against Glowacki in his semi-final win. Dorticos is taller, has longer arms, and an excellent jab. The Cuban battler also appears to be more predictable. It’s jab-right hand over and over, but it works for him more nights than not, and that right hand is a serious weapon.
What Briedis lacks in height and reach he should make up for in speed. He’s lighter on his feet, gets his hands off quickly, and mixes up his offense more in terms of changing velocity and trajectory of shots. He gave Usyk trouble in part by not being in the same place at all times and working angles with clever lateral movement. His knockout percentage isn’t as high as Dorticos but he’s got enough pop to score the stoppage if opportunity arises.
In a fight that could have serious drama and some shifts of momentum, the more versatile man feels like the safer pick. Dorticos will have chances off the right hand but Briedis’ movements and combinations should give him the benefit in enough rounds to exit Saturday as the new leader at Cruiserweight.
Additional Saturday Pick
Josh Taylor Dec. Apinun Khongsong
Rold Picks 2020: 13-7
Cliff Rold is the Managing Editor of BoxingScene, a founding member of the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board, a member of the International Boxing Research Organization, and a member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org