Mairis Briedis (-400) vs. Mike Perez (+385) Draw (+2800)
The World Boxing Super Series promises to breathe some life into the cruiserweight division, a weight-class often overlooked by fans but bustling with compelling and talented fighters. The elimination-style tournament puts the WBC, WBO, WBA, and IBF titles on the line, and offers a total prize pool of $50 million.
So far, the Super Series hasn’t disappointed. We’ve seen past champions Oleksandr Usyk (WBO) and Yunier Dorticos (WBA) advance to the semifinals, and now we’ll see if fellow champs Mairis Briedis (WBC) and Murat Gassiev (IBF) will join them. If everything falls into place, we’ll see the top four cruiserweights in the world (though Tony Bellew would disagree with that assessment) face each other for the coveted Muhammad Ali trophy.
In order for Briedis and Gassiev to meet, Briedis (22-0, 18 KOs) first needs to defeat Cuban fighter Mike Perez (22-2-1) on September 30th. Briedis has a significant number of advantages over Perez, an opponent he hand-picked for his quarter-final bout. He’ll also be fighting in his native Latvia, which will only amplify his in-ring edge.
Briedis first caught a glimmer of the public eye in 2015 when he scored a brutal knockout against Manuel Charr and proceeded to claim the IBF intercontinental and WBC Silver cruiserweight titles. However, it wasn’t until he outboxed WBC champ Marco Huck in April that he cemented his reputation as one of the best cruiserweights in the world.
Mike Perez is by no means a bad fighter — he wouldn’t be in the tournament if he was — but he has a long path in front of him before being considered a top-ranked cruiserweight. He’s only managed two wins in his last five fights; one was against Darnell Wilson, the loser of 14 of his last 17 bouts, and the other against the inexperienced Viktor Biscak.
All signs point to Briedis emerging victorious in this bout. The series was engineered for Usyk, Gassiev, Briedis, and Yunier Dorticos to meet in the semifinals, and the pre-ordained plan should come to fruition. Briedis is an undefeated world champion, and he won’t endure his first defeat against the middling Mike Perez. The top sportsbooks have placed Briedis at -400, so there isn’t too much money to be made wagering on this fight. Yet I wouldn’t take the risk on Perez; his chances are ridiculously slim, likely worse than the 20.6% implied probability carried by his +385 moneyline.
Pick: Mairis Briedis (-400)