Al Siesta has solid plans for a rejuvenated Mairis Briedis

WBC/WBO cruiserweight titlist Oleksandr Usyk (right) vs. Mairis Briedis. Photo credit: Olga Ivashchenko/K2 Promotions

 

After spending the majority of its existence in the shadows of its neighbors, the cruiserweight division is now enjoying its share of the limelight. Thanks to the better-than-expected tournament, the World Boxing Super Series, the 200-pound weight class has gotten its fair shake of attention from both media and fans.

 

The exciting series of events that has largely taken place in Europe opened 2018 with its semifinals on January 27 in Riga, Latvia. WBO titlist Oleksandr Usyk and WBC beltholder Mairis Briedis were not only unbeaten world champions; they were also rated in the Top 3 of an exciting and strong cruiserweight division.

 

Though pre-fight betting odds marked Usyk, 14-0 (11), as high as an 8-to-1 favorite to get his hands raised in victory, the match-up turned out to be a competitive one, with both fighters having their moments in a high-stakes tactical fight mixed with hard bombs from both sides. After 12 rounds, the judges ruled it as close as one could get. A 114-114 card was overruled by two 115-113 scores in favor of the Ukrainian Usyk.

 

The Latvian Briedis, 23-1 (18), who became the first pugilist from his country to win a major world championship, made his 10,000-plus fans proud with his honest effort to overcome his more experienced foe, who won gold at the London Olympics in 2012.

 

Al Siesta, Briedis’ manager, is proud of his fighter’s performance against Usyk.

 

“Mairis has shown to the world that he is very competitive, talented and one of the world’s elite fighters,” Siesta told UCNLive.com in a recent interview.

 

The fans in attendance really made the event a special experience that evening.

 

“The atmosphere was incredible, Latvian fans are among the best in the world. They proved this once again, as it is not the first time they have shown such great support for Briedis,” said Siesta. “I love Riga (in Latvia). I think it is a new boxing city and we are looking forward to more events there. Briedis will be back; I can assure everyone!”

 

Despite the blemish on his record, Briedis kept his No. 3 ranking by THE RING Magazine at cruiserweight. He is also rated No. 1 by the WBC, the sanctioning body which crowned Briedis with his first world title after the Latvian soundly outboxed veteran Marco Huck in Dortmund, Germany, last April.

 

Enjoying those high ranking positions, the question now is who will be Briedis’ opponent in his return to the squared circle? Will it be a gatekeeper who will keep the former champ warm until a super-fight can come along or is Team Briedis concentrating on only “meaningful” match-ups?

 

“The plans are big for Mairis’ next fight! We are not taking any shot fighters. We want to go straight into serious fights for serious titles. We are very grateful to THE RING Magazine to keep Briedis rated so high and also the WBC are keeping Briedis in the number one position as the main contender for the title. We will probably need to have a final elimination bout and then fight for the WBC title after that.”

 

According to the U.K.-based manager, who also runs a promotional company named Siesta Boxing, several options will be discussed en route to find the right opponent for Briedis’ return, an event that could materialize around May or June.

 

“We are looking at a few possibilities: Maxim Vlasov, Krzysztof Glowacki, Yunier Dorticos or possibly guys like Noel Gevor, Ilunga Makabu and even Constantin Bejenaru, anybody in the top of the WBC rankings. Briedis’ next fight will probably be in late spring or early summer. He could even be chief support on the WBSS cruiserweight final in Jeddah. The plans are big!”

 

Of course, a victory over a credible opponent would make the 33-year-old Latvian a logical choice to face the winner of the World Boxing Super Series, a fight that will take place between Briedis’ successor in Usyk and Russian craftsman and IBF/WBA beltholder Murat Gassiev. The coronational event is scheduled to happen in the aforementioned Jeddah, Saudi Arabia on May 11.

 

“With God’s will, the winner of the WBSS tournament will be open to defend their belts against Briedis next,” Siesta said.

 

However another option for the finalists of the series, as both Usyk and Gassiev have already told reporters recently, is a jump into the heavyweight division with the hope of super-fights against IBF/WBA titlist Anthony Joshua and WBC beltholder Deontay Wilder. This scenario could cause a scene equivalent of a savanna packed with gazelles and zebras, alongside a 450-pound lion in Briedis.

 

“If (the finalists of the WBSS) move up to heavyweight? Briedis will be fighting for the vacant WBC belt and the division is wide-open,” the manager acknowledged, adding that he would like to see his fighter stay in the cruiserweight division for years to come.

 

“Well, Briedis himself could move up to the heavyweight division (on paper). He proved in his fight with (Manuel) Charr (in August of 2015) that he can take heavyweights out. However Briedis is not the biggest cruiserweight. I would prefer him to stay at 200 pounds and dominate the division.”

 

It could very well be a wise choice for Briedis to listen to his boss, whose watchful eyes helped the Latvian fighter reach heights he could only dream about just a few years ago.

 

As for Siesta himself, the journey with Briedis can lead to more opportunities, for years to come.

 

“Boxing is my life. I embrace challenges. It’s very important to me, as both promoter and manager, to achieve the best for the fighters I represent. My job is to guide fighters to world titles, much like I have done with Briedis. I take my role very seriously, as this is a dangerous sport. They could get killed. This is what all managers and promoters should embrace,” said Siesta.

 

“For Siesta Boxing, this is all very important. I want it to grow bigger. I want to have more shows and I want to grow more talent. We never stop; we are active 24/7,” said the manager, who also shares part of his rituals, regarding the process of separating gold from the sand.

 

“I only want to work with special talents. I am looking for the next special talent. I need to recognize the talent with my gut feeling, not just on what other people tell me. I need to see that fighter in action. I need to get a feel for the fighter who can become a great warrior. What I can say is that, if I am working with a fighter, I will give 100% to get him to the top.”

 

When we look at the journey of Mairis Briedis, we shall give it to Al Siesta, especially if we take into consideration that the next mountaintop has likely yet to get reached.

 

“We must continue to grow Briedis as he is a big part of the Siesta Boxing stable. Next, we want to make him a unified world champion.”

 

 

 

You can reach Tamas Pradarics at pradaricst@yahoo.com and follow him on Twitter.com @TomiPradarics.

 

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