In yet another intriguing cruiserweight matchup, knockout artists Mairis Briedis and Olanrewaju Durodola will lock horns on May 14th in the former's hometown of Riga, Latvia. The winner becomes the mandatory challenger for the WBC title, which Tony Bellew and Ilunga Makabu will fight for later this year.
Briedis (19-0, 16 KO) spent a good chunk of 2015 testing the waters at heavyweight, where he overcame a thirty-pound weight disadvantage to knock Manuel Charr the absolute hell out. He returned to 200 pounds a month ago, knocking out South Africa's Danie Venter in two.
Durodola (22-2, 20 KO) scored one of 2015's most impressive upsets when he beat down Russian destroyer Dmitry Kudryashov, surviving Kudryashov's signature left hook before overwhelming him in the second round. He has now won five straight since a 2014 loss to Thabiso Mchunu, although it's worth noting that there was some controversy around the Kudryashov win due to issues in drug testing.
With Lebedev-Ramirez, Bellew-Makabu, Dorticos-Kalenga, and now this on the docket, the 200-pound division has firmly established itself as one of the most entertaining in boxing. I'm willing to bet we'll get plenty of quality highlights in the coming months.