By Iain Dolan,
A cracking weekend in Riga was crowned by a cracking night at the Arena Riga for the Cruiserweight semi finals of the WBSS. Drama, noise, knockdowns, elbows and beer…. And this was just the Cinema Bar in Riga old town on the Friday night. My fellow traveller and I managed to keep it sensible for the most part and after a leisurely lunch in the old town on the Saturday in very agreeable weather and surrounded by very agreeable scenery, we made our way to Arena Riga on foot. The atmosphere was lively from the minute we walked in and the heavily outnumbered Glowacki fans were making their presence felt. The needle on my “this could get a bit dicey radar” was quickly in the red but I saw not so much as a cross word between fans all night. When you factor in the fact that the weakest beer in the whole town is 5.4% the complete lack of unrest was impressive, as was the fact that I managed to make any notes at all when main event didn’t kick off until gone midnight.
Yunier Dorticos vs Andrew Tabiti wasn’t a classic by any stretch but engaging enough as Dorticos loaded up looking for the home run with limited success and was occasionally picked off by the smaller Tabiti. Dorticos was mostly doing enough to win the rounds and a pedestrian points victory looked likely until the 10th round when Dorticos connected with the right hand that will likely be a KO of the year contender. Dorticos was very emotional after the fight. It must be hard to be such a monstrous puncher and then feel bad after you’ve chinned someone. Still, he picked up the IBF strap which will have been some consolation and now has a place in the final too.
The main event or Mairis Briedis v Krzysztof Glowacki resulted in volume levels I’ve never heard before at boxing. The arena was probably about two thirds full but the crowd noise nearly took the roof off when anything exciting happened and, of course, lots did. In the space of three rounds we had rabbit punches (Glowacki) a retaliatory elbow (Briedis) that could have easily resulted in a DQ and did result in Glowacki being face down on the canvas for a bit. To help calm everybody down, referee Byrd opted not to stop the fight at the end of the 2nd round (the crowd was very, very loud but the bell was still audible) allowing the fighters to still go at it and Briedis to score a knockdown while the crowd went even more nuts. Glowacki had not recovered fully by the start of the 3rd and Briedis jumped on him. Another right hook sent Glowacki crashing face first to the canvas again and the referee waved it off having seen enough (somewhat ironically because he hadn’t seen or heard much at all until this point) and the Crowd. Went. Ballistic. All still very good natured but it was seriously intense. They love Briedis unconditionally and things took a turn for the weird when Briedis proposed to a woman to whom he was already married (according the lady sat beside me) but his adoring public lapped it up. Briedis will meet Dorticos in the final and it is devoutly to be wished that the fight ends up back in Riga and wife permitting, I’m going to be there if it does.