Despite announcing a move to heavyweight earlier this summer, IBF cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis is staying at 200 pounds for the time being. Wasserman Boxing announced that Briedis will return to his native Riga, Latvia to defend his title on October 16th against Artur Mann.
Kalle Sauerland claims “negotiations broke down” with Briedis’ (27-1, 19 KO) mandatory challenger, prompting them to ask the sanctioning body for a “special exception.” It’s not actually clear which challenger they’re talking about; the IBF hasn’t designated a #1 contender at cruiserweight, as Michal Cieslak and Jai Opetaia sit at #2 and #3 behind an empty spot.
The 30-year-old Mann (17-1, 9 KO) has fought almost exclusively in his native Germany in his career, popping over to Chicago for a win on the Glowacki-Vlasov undercard and South Africa for a four-round stoppage loss to Kevin Lerena. He’s fought just once since 2019, a June 2020 knockout of Rad Rashid.
So, yeah, not quite as appealing as the unification with Lawrence Okolie that Briedis previously called for. At least it gets the Latvian slugger back into the ring for the first time since last year’s gritty WBSS finals against Yuniel Dorticos.