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Mairis Briedis wants to unify the cruiserweight division after Artur Mann fight this Saturday

Mairis Briedis and Artur Mann with Kalle Sauerland

IBF cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis 27-1 (19) has announced plans to unify the division ahead of his title defence against Artur Mann 17-1 (9) at the Arena Riga in Riga, Latvia on Saturday night.

Briedis, who is back in action following his World Boxing Super Series winning performance against Yuniel Dorticos in September 2020, returns to his hometown arena for the first time in over two years to defend his belts against Germany’s Mann.

Local fans were warned that it could be their last opportunity to see Briedis box at home ahead of his bid to collect the WBC, WBA and WBO belts.

South African-based Congolese Ilunga Makabu 28-2 (25) is the WBC titleholder, while Arsen Goulamirian 26-0 (18) of France holds the WBA strap. Britain’s Lawrence Okolie 17-0 (14) is the boss in the WBO.

“This weekend is of course going to be a special event as Mairis Briedis defends his world titles in front of a red-hot atmosphere at the Arena Riga, but it is also going to be an emotional one,” said promoter Kalle Sauerland.

“I have informed the team that this is going to be Mairis’ last ever appearance in his native Latvia as 2022 will mean us going on the road in order to unify the division.”

“If this is my last fight in Latvia then this has given me additional motivation,” said Briedis, who holds the Ring Magazine title along with the IBF belt. “I will make sure I give everyone at Arena Riga a night to remember.

“Boxing in Latvia is fantastic. This is my home and fighting here is special. I’ve boxed all over the world, including in the United States, but nowhere is as good as here. I will make sure I enjoy this evening with my fans.”

The 36-year-old Briedis has emerged as the top boxer in the world at 200-pounds after Oleksandr Usyk 19-0 (13) moved up to heavyweight two years ago. Ukrainian southpaw Usyk is the only boxer to defeat Briedis, a fight that went to the cards. Briedis lost by majority decision 114-114 and 113-115 twice.

Challenger Mann will be looking to spoil the party and destroy Briedis’ hopes of unification. His lone loss came to South Africa’s Kevin Lerena by fourth-round knockout in March 2019.

Victory over Briedis will be extra special for Mann after he turned 31 on Monday.

“I am very motivated,” said Mann. “I’ve been training hard since the day I received a call about this fight. This is the most important thing for me right now. I will give everything in the ring and I hope on Saturday I will succeed.”

Mairis Briedis defends his IBF and Ring Magazine world cruiserweight titles against Artur Mann on October 16 at the Arena Riga in Latvia. Tickets are on sale now and available to purchase via https://www.bilesuserviss.lv.