Mairis Briedis returned home for the first time in over two years, and he thrilled the crowd in Riga, Latvia, defending his IBF cruiserweight title with a third round win over Artur Mann.
Briedis (28-1, 20 KOs) came into this one on a run of four straight wins since a loss to the gifted Oleksandr Usyk in January 2018 in the semi-final of the World Boxing Super Series, and he became IBF champion in September last year, outscoring Yuniel Dorticos.
The 36-year-old had also previously served as a WBC and WBO champion in separate spells. Kazakhstan-born German, Mann (17-2, 9 KOs) was in at a level he’d never reached before, with a sole defeat on his slate coming in an IBO title loss in South Africa in 2019 to Kevin Lerena.
Mann was no match for the Latvian, and after a one-sided opening round, Briedis dropped the challenger with a right hand right at the end of the second.
The end wasn’t long in coming, as power shots to head and body floored Mann once again in the third, and although the visitor rose and beat the count, a short right hand sent him reeling to the ropes, and more head and body attacks forced the 31-year-old to seek refuge on the canvas.
It looked to be a body shot that did the damage, as Mann tried to rise, but then dropped again in pain, and the referee called the fight over.
Briedis may now look to seek unification clashes with the likes of WBO champion, Lawrence Okolie, or there may be an overdue move into the land of the heavyweights.
“It was a long time since I was last in the ring,” said the victor to IFLTV.
“Now I hope that there’s not too long a break between fights, we move fast, and we make big fights. It’s been a bad time with the pandemic, and this will give me confidence. I love boxing in this arena.
Before the end of the year. I need some smoke 🌍💭. #unify
— Lawrence Okolie (NEW MONEY FREESTLYE OUT NOW) (@Lawrence_tko) October 16, 2021
“I don’t know when I’ll box him [Okolie]. He hasn’t done his homework by not watching my fight.
“Eddie Hearn, give Okolie the money, and we’ll make the fight. If this happens, it will be a mega fight in the UK.”
Kalle Sauerland, Briedis’ promoter, added, “For the last year, every day, Mairis has been asking when he is fighting!
“I’m delighted to see him back in the ring. It’s always important to get the best of the division out and active, and that’s exactly what we will be doing with him.
Lets have @Lawrence_tko vs. @BriedisMairis next please 📝 pic.twitter.com/tsh0G6Agtn
— Boxing Talk (@BoxingTalk_UK) October 17, 2021
“There’s big fights in 2022. I’ve spoken to Eddie. I think Mairis wants it, and I think that Lawrence wants it. I think it’s something that we’ll talk about in the coming days and weeks.”
Harlem Eubank (12-0, 4 KOs) managed an outing on the bill, and he overcame a cut to eventually score a fifth round knockout win against Georgia’s Nika Nakashidze (7-12-1, 2 KOs), on the same night his brother Chris Eubank Jr saw off Wanik Awdijan in Newcastle.
Harlem gets the job DONE 💥
Big future @harlemeubank – first Eubank tonight to get the win, @chriseubankjr next 🔥 #boxing #EubankAwdijan pic.twitter.com/8MWqkaL8bn
— Kalle & Nisse Sauerland (@SauerlandBros) October 16, 2021
Elsewhere, Jevgenijs Aleksejevs (13-0, 7 KOs) took an eight round decision win against Pavel Semjonov (25-19-2, 10 KOs) at middleweight.