In response to the coronavirus pandemic, the World Boxing Super Series on Saturday announced that the final of its second-season cruiserweight tournament has been postponed.
World titleholder Yunier Dorticos and former world titlist Mairis Briedis were due to meet in the already long-delayed final of the eight-man tournament on March 21 in Riga, Latvia, Briedis’ hometown. However, because of the coronavirus, organizer Comosa AG said that the fight would instead move to May 16, also in Riga.
“Local authorities in Latvia have adopted comprehensive measures in response to the coronavirus pandemic. As a result, events with more than 200 people present have been prohibited until April 14,” the World Boxing Series said in a statement. “In regard to the risk of infection, the local authorities have concluded that the WBSS cruiserweight final is a particularly high-risk event, not only for the athletes themselves but also for all local and foreign staff involved in the organization and conduct of the event.
“For this reason, the WBSS cruiserweight final between Mairis Briedis and Yunier Dorticos cannot take place as planned. The new date planned for the final in Arena Riga is May 16. However, this is, of course, dependent on the current restrictions being lifted. The health of all those involved to stage this historic event is and will always be the primary concern of the WBSS and we will continue to carefully monitor the situation with the authorities and the athlete’s teams.”
Tickets purchased for the March 21 event remain valid for the new date, the WBSS said.
The 200-pound world title fight had been planned for Dec. 14 but was delayed until March 21 due to sanctioning body issues.
“While I was in great shape and looking forward to coming to Latvia to win the Muhammad Ali trophy, I understood the impracticality and therefore l will have to wait until May to win the tournament,” Dorticos said. “I want to thank all my fans for their patience and I ask that everyone be careful and take the necessary steps to stay healthy during these challenging times.”
“The KO Doctor” Dorticos (24-1, 22 KOs), 34, a Cuban defector fighting out of Miami, is due to make the first defense of his second title reign. He claimed a vacant belt with a spectacular one-punch knockout of Andrew Tabiti in the 10th round of the semifinals last June.
The 35-year-old Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs) controversially knocked out Krzysztof Glowacki in the third round on the same card as Dorticos-Tabiti to claim a world title, but he was eventually stripped when he refused a sanctioning body order to grant Glowacki an immediate rematch because he was already contractually bound to face Dorticos in the WBSS final.
“We’ve done great work in preparation until the very last planned training, but it is what it is and we will now adapt to the new situation and keep training to wait for the green light,” Briedis said. “Looking forward to fighting in front of my fans when it’s safe. Take care of yourself, people.”
There were also other postponements announced on Saturday.
In Japan, all boxing events had previously been postponed until at least April 15 but that was extended until April 30 by the Japan Boxing Commission and the Japan Professional Boxing Association, which is the union of some 270 licensed boxing club owners. The new date means the postponement or cancellation of at least 11 events in Japan.
Also, Team Sauerland and Universum Box-Promotion said their joint card on April 14 headlined by a 10-round fight between junior middleweight up-and-comer Abass Baraou and Nick Klappert in Hamburg, Germany, was postponed indefinitely. At least 29 boxing events around the world have been postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus pandemic.