World Boxing Organization cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk, who has won all of his 13 fights, will on Jan. 27 fight for another belt. Usyk is seeking to take the World Boxing Council title from undefeated holder, Latvian Mairis Briedis, in the champion’s hometown of Riga.
Inter TV will broadcast the fight in Ukraine; ESPN will do so in America.
“He’s a dangerous opponent, he punches with two hands,” said Usyk at the Klitschko Expo Center in Kyiv on Jan. 18, a day after his 31st birthday. “With that kind of an opponent, you have to fight with extreme focus.”
He described the WBC cruiserweight title holder’s boxing style as “wait and see” as he “creates an opening to counterattack. It all matters what a boxer lets you do (in the ring)…How will they let things envelop.”
Briedis, who has defeated all his 23 opponents, had difficulty overcoming his latest rival southpaw, a left-handed boxer who leads with the right hand, Mike Perez on points in September. Usyk, also a southpaw, said that Briedis “clinches when he gets into trouble, but I’m a taught fighter so that shouldn’t be a problem.”
On a personal level, Usyk said his upcoming adversary is “calm, ordinary and a balanced person – he doesn’t talk ‘trash’.”
The bout is part of the World Boxing Super Series tournament designed to unite the four belts with one holder. The competition is entering the semi-finals stage with International Boxing Federation champion Murat Gassiev of Russia to face World Boxing Association holder Yunier Dorticos of Cuba in Sochi on Feb. 3.
The final duel for all four cruiserweight championship belts is to take place in Saudi Arabia, said Alexander Krassyuk, the CEO of K2 Promotions, the company that promotes Usyk, a boxer born in Simferopol, a city in Russian-occupied Crimea.
For his next bout, Usyk did conditioning training in the Carpathian winter resort town of Bukovel in Ivano-Frankivsk region. An Olympic training facility in the Kyiv suburb of Koncha-Zaspa is home to his regular training camp.
His manager since early 2017 has been Egis Klimas, a Lithuanian-born American citizen. Serhiy Batamaniuk currently trains the WBO cruiserweight champion after taking over the role of veteran trainer James Ali Bashir who was with Usyk from the start of his professional career in November 2013.
Usyk and Bashir had a falling out soon after the Ukrainian boxer won the WBO title in April 2014.