Mairis Briedis is eager to become a four-time cruiserweight champion.
He is also patient enough to wait his turn and allow his prior conqueror the opportunity to take a voluntary title defense.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Latvia’s Briedis has every intention to be next in line for the Jai Opetaia-Jordan Thompson winner, per a ruling from the IBF which permitted the voluntary cruiserweight title fight. The sanctioning body previously ordered an Opetaia-Briedis rematch to their thriller from last July 2 which saw Sydney’s Opetaia score a twelve-round, unanimous decision in a thriller to win the lineal and IBF cruiserweight championship.
Briedis, however, agreed to comply with a special permit filed by Opetaia’s team to instead first face Manchester’s Thompson (15-0, 12KOs). The battle of unbeaten cruiserweights will take place September 30 at OVO Arena Wembley in London.
The winner will then have to honor a mandatory defense versus Briedis, who previously held the WBC, WBO and IBF titles on separate occasions during his three respective title reigns.
“We are next for the winner,” Wasserman Boxing’s Nisse Sauerland, Briedis’ promoter, confirmed to BoxingScene.com. “We didn’t object to the special permit.”
Opetaia was previously instructed by the IBF to enter talks with three consecutive mandatory title challengers. Poland’s Mateusz Masternak and England’s Richard Riakporhe both bailed just as their respective ordered bouts were scheduled for a purse bid hearing, which led to Briedis (28-2, 20KOs) making his way back to the top of the queue.
The 38-year-old Latvian has yet to fight since his defeat to Opetaia (22-0, 17KOs), which ended a 20-month stay as the lineal and IBF champ.
Briedis previously held the WBC belt from April 2017-Janaury 2018, which ended in a narrow defeat to Oleksandr Usyk in their WBC/WBO unification bout as part of the World Boxing Super Series (WBSS) cruiserweight tournament. He won the second season outright, but had to relinquish the WBO title he won in a wild June 2019 knockout win over Krzysztof Glowacki. The WBO ordered a rematch which he couldn’t honor due to his tournament commitment.
Briedis went on to face and dethrone then-IBF titlist Yuniel Dorticos in their September 2020 final. One successful title defense followed before his defeat to Opetaia last July on the road in Broadbeach, Australia.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox