Cruiserweight update: European title now vacant

Source: Boxxer


Cruiserweight update: European title now vacant

Isaac Chamberlain will face Jack Massey for the vacant European and Commonwealth cruiserweight titles on Saturday, June 15th at South London’s Selhurst Park stadium, live on Sky Sports in the UK and Ireland and Peacock in the USA. Chamberlain was set to challenge Poland's Michal Cieslak for the European championship, but Cieslak has withdrawn from the contest due to injury and has chosen to vacate his European title, thus giving Massey a golden opportunity to step in and fight Chamberlain. On the same card, Chris Billam-Smith defends his WBO cruiserweight championship vs. Richard Riakporhe. 
Massey (21-2, 12 KOs) is a former IBO champion. He tried his hand at heavyweight in 2023, losing to ex-WBO heavyweight champion Joseph Parker. Massey returned to cruiserweight for a win over Steve Eloundou Ntere in January.
Chamberlain (16-2, 8 KOs) was named mandatory challenger for the European crown following a dominant points victory over London rival Mikael Lawal for the British and Commonwealth titles  in October 2023.
Boxxer CEO and founder Ben Shalom said: “We now have another cruiserweight battle of Britain confirmed for our historic event at Selhurst Park as Isaac Chamberlain and Jack Massey clash for the European and Commonwealth Titles. We’d like to wish Michal Cieslak a speedy recovery. He’s been a great champion and we’re sure he will be back and in more big fights soon. This is a massive fight for both men with huge rewards for the winner and a very big addition to June 15th.”
Fans attending the show will be part of history as boxing returns to Selhurst Park in its centenary year. 
Ben Whittaker faces undefeated rival and press conference crasher Ezra Arenyeka at light heavyweight... another 175 pounder, ight star Dan Azeez returns to action and bantamweight Francesca Hennessy is also slated to compete. 
A percentage of every ticket sold will be donated to the Palace For Life Foundation, the official charity of Crystal Palace F.C, which has been working with the community for over 25 years, helping young people grow through the power of sport, inspiring them to find a better path in life and to lead a healthier life.This event is presented in association with official partners bet365, Integritas Property Group and HELL Energy. 
WBC / MAY 23, 2024: WBC cruiserweight champion Noel “The Dark Horse” Mikaelian (27-2, 12 KOs) has been forced out of his world title defense against Canada's Ryan “The Bruiser” Rozicki (20-1, 19 KOs) due to a cut near his eye. Mikaelian suffered the injury while preparing for his June 7th showdown. Although disappointed, Mikaelian says that he will be ready for Don King’s next show: “I’m sorry to my fans and the boxing community. I’ll be ready to return to action and defend my world title in time for Don King’s next massive event.”
IBF / MAY 19, 2024: In the chief supporting bout in Riyadh, Jai Opetaia (25-0, 19 KOs) defeated former two-time champion Mairis Briedis (28-3, 20 KOs) by unanimous decision in a bruising battle that saw both men finish with possible broken noses. Briedis rallied late but lost by scores of 117-111 and 116-112 (twice). Opetaia regained the IBF cruiserweight world title that the IBF basically forced him to vacate. This was a rematch.  In July 2022, Opetaia, a 2012 Australian Olympian, overcame an injured jaw to claim Briedis’ IBF cruiserweight championship. Briedis was considered the top 200-pounder in the world since Oleksandr Usyk moved up to heavyweight but Opetaia bloodied and defeated the Latvian favorite by unanimous decision. Official scores for the first bout were 116-112 (twice) and 115-113, all in favor of Opetaia, who improved to 22-0 with 17 KOs. He joined Usyk as the only man to defeat Briedis, who is now 28-2.  In December 2023, Opetaia vacated the IBF cruiserweight championship to move forward with a bout in Saudi Arabia against Great Britain's Ellis Zorro. Opetaia was ordered to grant Briediis a rematch by the IBF but when Briedis got injured, Opetaia sought to sneak in a lucrative voluntary defense on the huge show in Riadh. Reportedly, Briedis had no objection to the voluntary, but the IBF rigidly refused to budge, so Opetaia moved on without the belt and KO'd Zorro in one round.

WBC / NOV. 4, 2023:  There is a new WBC cruiserweight champion as Noel Mikaelian (27-2, 12 KOs) stopped the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ilunga Makabu (29-4, 25 KOs) one minute into the third round. After flooring Makabu in the second round, Miami’s Mikaelian, by way of Armenia, flustered the former champion with a barrage of punches. The title was recently vacated by Badou Jack. Mikaelian said about his knockout victory: “I didn’t expect the knockout so early, but I knew my hand would be raised (in victory) at the end of the night. I’m so happy. I waited two years. I was so close to winning that belt and this time I didn’t want to leave any doubts.” Mikaelian noted the significance of his win: “I had a great camp…I’m the first German to win a world championship on American soil in 90 years, since Max Schmelling.”

WBA / OCT. 12, 2023: The WBA Championships Committee has ordered a 200-pound title bout between champion Arsen Goulamirian and his mandatory challenger, Yuniel Dorticos. Goulamirian is 27-0 but has only fought once since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. A former IBF champion, Dorticos is 26-2 but has fought only once per year for the last four years. The WBA gave the boxers a thirty-day negotiation window which began this Tuesday, October 10th and will end on November 10th. Both parties received the formal notification signed by Carlos Chávez, president of the championships committee. In case both parties do not reach an agreement, the WBA may call for a purse bid under the WBA rules.
IBF / SEPT. 30, 2023: IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia made a successful first title defense in London, stopping previously unbeaten Jordan Thompson in the fourth round. The end came with a left-right combination from Opetaia's southpaw stance. Opetaia returns home to Australia with his belt plus a record of 24-0. Thompson is now 15-1.
WBO / MAY 28, 2023..In a crazy fight in Bournemouth, England, Chris Billam-Smith won the WBO cruiserweight champion from his fellow Brit, good friend and former sparring partner Lawrence Okolie. Billam-Smith scored thee knockdowns and Okolie was penalized two points for non-stop holding. But the championship rounds saw Okolie furiously pressing for a knockdown and Billam-Smith dealing with a bad cut over his left eye. Despite Okolie's late rally, when the final bell sounded, the three knockdowns and two point deductions seemed impossible for the champ to overcome, but there was one more plot twist to come. When the first score was read by the ring announcer, Billam-Smith was shocked to hear 112-112. Sanity prevailed as the other two judges favored Billam-Smith by 116-107 and 115-108. As the majority win was revealed, Billam-Smith broke down in tears and described how he was sick during the week. He also dedicated the win to his mother who was battling breast cancer. During his post-fight interview, Okolie acknowledged his loss but revealed that he had a rematch clause that he planned to invoke.
WBC / FEB. 26, 2023: Badou Jack (28-3-3, 17 KOs) is now a two-division world champion.* The 39-year old scored a technical knockout victory over Ilunga Makabu (29-3, 25 KOs) to capture the WBC cruiserweight world title. Jack boxed an intelligent fight, mixing footwork and counterpunching to consistently find a home for his right hand. Makabu, on the other hand, seemed too cautious and had trouble putting his punches together. In the fourth round, Jack dropped Makabu with a right hand, and he repeated the knockdown in the eleventh. In the final round, Makabu was clearly worn out from Jack’s offense, and Swedish standout only needed an additional right hand and a brief fusillade of shots to force referee Mark Lyson to stop the fight.
*Some list Jack as a three-division champion because he won the WBA regular light heavyweight title in 2017. Boxingtalk does not recognize that as a legitimate world title because Sergey Kovalev was recognized as WBA super champion at that time.
WBA / NOV. 22, 2022... Arsen Goulamirian retained his WBA cruiserweight championship this weekend against Aleksei Egorov with a unanimous decision victory at La Palestre in Le Cannet, France. The Armenian native and French national came off a nearly three-year layoff and came away with a win on the cards by scores of 116-112 and 117-111 (twice). Inactive since 2019, this was Goulamirian's mandatory fight. Goulamirian (27-0) went from strength to strength in the bout and improved as the rounds went by. He faced a very active opponent in the early rounds but was able to figure out his Russian foe to come on strong at the end of the bout. Egorov’s record stands at 16 wins and 3 losses including the World Series of Boxing. [Goulamirian would remain inactive for more than a year].
IBF / JULY 3, 2022: 2012 Australian Olympian Jai Opetaia overcame an injured jaw to claim Mairis Briedis’ IBF cruiserweight championship. Briedis was considered the top 200-pounder in the world since Oleksadr Usyk moved up to heavyweight but Opetaia bloodied and defeated the Latvian favorite by unanimous decision on Saturday in Broadbeach, Australia. Official scores were 116-112 (twice) and 115-113, all in favor of Opetaia, who improves to 22-0 with 17 KOs. He joins Usyk as the only man to defeat Briedis, who is now 28-2. 
WBO / MARCH 21, 2021: Lawrence Okolie crushed Krzysztof Glowacki to be crowned the new WBO cruiserweight champion in just his sixteenth fight at The SSE Arena, Wembley. Okolie unloaded a huge finishing punch to drop Poland’s Glowacki heavily in the sixth round and referee Marcus McDonnell waved off the fight to confirm the coronation of Britain’s newest champ.  [The WBO title was vacant coming in after Mairis Briedis vacated it in order to pursue the IBF title in the World Boxing Super Series final]. The unbeaten 28 year-old from Hackney had emulated the likes of Tony Bellew, David Haye and Johnny Nelson, who previously held world crowns in the weight class.
IBF / SEPT. 27, 2020: Season II of the World Boxing Super Series came to its conclusion on Saturday with Latvia's Mairis Briedis taking home the coveted Muhammad Ali Trophy and the IBF championship by defeating Yuniel Dorticos in Munich. The WBSS cruiserweight Final, contested behind closed doors, was a close battle. Briedis repeatedly troubled the Cuban Dorticos with powerful counter-punches during a commanding performance. Dorticos was never far behind, and one judge scored it a draw, 114-114, while the other two handed in wide verdicts of 117-111 for Briedis. The Latvian Briedis would only defend the title once in 2021 before losing to Jai Opetaia in 2022.
WBC / FEB. 1. 2020: Ilunga "Junior" Makabu is the new WBC cruiserweight champion, having won the vacant title by defeating Poland's Michal Cieslak via twelve-round decision.  The judges’ scores were Omar Mintum 114-112, Carlos Flores 115-111 and Humberto Olivares 116-111, all in favor of Makabu.  The fight took place in Makabu's home nation, the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Makabu is now 27-2, while Cieslak is 19-1.
WBO / NOV. 26, 2019: The WBO cruiserweight championship has been declared vacant as part of a months-long legal battle arising from Maris Briedis' foul-tainted victory over Krzysztof Glowacki last June. That fight was part of the World Boxing Super Series. Briedis landed a deliberate foul, an elbow to the jaw of Glowacki, that hurt him badly but went unpunished by referee Robert Byrd. A few seconds after Glowacki got up from the foul, Byrd allowed the boxers to continue fighting well after the bell sounded to end round two, leading to Glowacki suffering a hard knockdown about ten seconds after the bell rang. Again, Byrd did nothing. Briedis admitted in his post fight interview that the elbow was deliberate and that he heard the bell but kept fighting anyway. Glowacki protested to the WBO, and after an arbitration was held in Puerto Rico, the WBO ordered Briedis to give Glowacki an immediate rematch. Briedis refused, intending to fight IBF champion Yuniel Dorticos in the finals of the World Boxing Super Series, although that fight still has not been scheduled. Glowacki will now await the WBO to name the co-challenger for the vacant title. NOTE: Glowacki was represented in the arbitration by Scott Shaffer, the author of this article.
WBO / JUNE 15, 2019: In a wildly entertaining and controversial bout in Riga, Latvia, Mairis Briedis took advantage of horrendous refereeing by Robert Byrd to become the new WBO cruiserweight champion. Fighting in his home nation, Briedis committed a blatant foul that led to a third-round technical knockout win over Kyrzysztof Glowacki. The win advanced Briedis to the World Boxing Super Series finals, where he will meet newly minted IBF cruiserweight champion Yuniel Dorticos. In round two, Glowacki twice hit Briedis on the back of the head during a clinch as Byrd yelled stop. The second time, Briedis decided to use self help, throwing a nasty, deliberate elbow that caught Glowacki flush on the jaw and sent the Polish man to the canvas. Byrd took a point away, but Glowacki was not fully recovered when the action resumed. Briedis pressed the action and the knocked Glowacki down with about nineteen seconds left in the round. Glowacki beat the count, but was foggy eyed, and definitely needed the minute rest between rounds. As the action resumed, one of Briedis' cornermen jumed up on the ring apron, which is grounds for disqulaification. Then, the bell sounded to end round two, but Byrd did not hear it, and the the boxers engaged in a wild slugfest, with Briedis again knocking Glowacki down. The knockdown came a full ten seconds after the bell. In his post-fight interview, Briedis smiled and admitted he heard the bell but kept fighting. To recap round two, Glowacki was down three times: once from an illegal elbow, once from a legal blow while still buzzed from the illegal elbow, and once from a punch that landed well after the bell sounded. In round three, the boxers engaged in a wild slugfest, but it was clear Glowacki was fighting at a diminished capacity. He was knocked down again, hard, with his arms flailing, and beat the count, but was in no shape to continue. Byrd, who put in a terrible performance tonight, stopped the fight, to the delight of the Latvian audience. Note: Briedis has the WBO title only, as the WBC threw a hissy fit and pulled the sanction. The WBC cruiserweight title remains vacant. 
IBF / JUNE 15, 2019: In Riga, Latvia, Cuba's Yuniel Dorticos got a career-changing win, landing a hard right hand that put previously undefeated Andrew Tabiti to sleep in round ten of the World Boxing Super Series semi-final bout. The win was doubly significant because, in a surprise move, the IBF announced earlier in the day that the winner would be recognized as the IBF cruiserweight champion (Oleksandr Usyk formally vacated the belt in furtherance of his heavyweight campaign). Dorticos was ahead on points, but had to deal with a bad cut over his right eye. Dorticos will await the winner of the other semi-final, a WBO title fight in which Kryzysztof Glowacki defends against former WBC titlist Mairis Briedis. An emotional Dorticos shed tears of joy in the ring. He's now 24-1, with the only loss to Murat Gassiev in last years World Boxing Super Series. The disappointed Tabiti heads home to the United States with a 17-1 record.
WBO / JUNE 6, 2019: The WBO promoted its interim cruiserweight champion, Krysztof Glowacki of Poland, to its full champion in the 200-pound division.  According to WBO social media, "With Oleksandr Usyk moving to the heavyweight division, interim champion Krysztof Glowacki is now recognized as the new WBO champion and will face Mairis Briedis in a voluntary defense on June 15th in Riga, Latvia" [as part of the World Boxing Super Series]. Glowacki (31-1) previously held the WBO title from 2015-2016, but lost it to Usyk in 2016. Briedis (25-1) held the WBC version of the title from 2017-2018, also losing his belt to Usyk.
WORLD / NOV. 11, 2018: World champion Oleksandr Usyk said goodbye to the 200-pound division with yet another road win to add to his resume. Fighting in his opponent's coutry, Usyk stopped Tony Bellew, who had earned this shot with an impressive run of five quality wins. After seven hotly contested rounds, Usyk knocked out Bellew with a left hand to Bellew's jaw that violently sent him crashing to the canvas. Promoter Eddie Hearn nearly cradled Bellew's head as he made his way to his feet. Bellew might have been able to beat the count, but the referee did the right thing by stopping the fight. After uifying all four major titles, Usyk will campaign as a heavyweight in the future.
WORLD / JULY 22, 2018: In Moscow, cruiserweight Oleksandr Usyk of the Ukraine put on a master boxing class to become only the fifth boxer in history to gain undisputed world championship recognition from the IBF, WBO, WBC and WBA. Usyk accomplished this by defeating Murat Gassiev of Russia by unanimous decision. The win also made Usyk the winner of the World Boxing Super Series eight-man tournament. Official scores were for Usyk 120-108 and 119-109 (twice). Seeing Usyk draped in the Ukraine flag with four championships belts wrapped around him and the Ali Trophy raised over his head was quite an impressive ending to a fantastic tournament pulled off by Comosa AG. Usyk joins Bernard Hopkins, Jermain Taylor, Cecilia Braekhus and Terence Crawford as the only boxers to hold all four major belts since the WBO gained recognition in the early 1990s. (In the cruiserweight division, the great Evander Holyfiled conquered all three championships in 1988 prior to the emergence of the WBO).  Both men were undfeated coming into this bout, and Gassiev, if not Usyk as well, will likely move up to heavyweight.
WBA / MARCH 26, 2018: Arsen Goulamirian got a significant win, plus a paper title in Marseille, France, defeating Ryad Merhy via eleventh-round technical knockout. The win gives Goulamirian the WBA regular cruiserweight title (Murat Gassiev is recognized as WBA super champion and Denis Lebedev as  WBA champion in recess). A combination of many consecutive unanswered blows to Merhy forced the referee to stop the fight. Goulamirian, an Armenian living in France, is 23-0 while Merhy, from the Ivory Coast and living in Belgium, is now 24-1. Goulamirian would go on to inherit the WBA full title, emerging from a mess of WBA corruption involving Denis Lebedev, Murat Gassiev and Beibut Shumenov who repeatedly switched title designations as part of machinations of the WBA.
WBO & WBC / JAN. 28, 2018: Fighting in Latvia, his opponent's home country, Oleksandr Usyk defeated Mairis Briedis to add the WBC cruiserweight championship to the WBO version he already held. The Ukrainian Usyk, a 2012 Olympic champion, won by majority decision, with scores of 115-113 (twice) and 114-114.  The unification bout was part of the World Boxing Super Series, and Usyk now qualifies for the finals, which will be held in Saudi Arabia. Usyk will face the winner of the bout between Murat Gassiev and Yunier Dorticos, which will be contested next week in Sochi, Russia. 
IBF & WBA / DEC. 4, 2016… In an all-Russian cruiserweight battle, Murat Gassiev defeated Denis Lebedev to become the IBF cruiserweight champion, and, along with WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk, one of the top two cruiserweights in the world. Gassiev, a 23 year-old trained by Abel Sanchez, knocked the Freddie Roach-trained Lebedev down in round five and went on to win by split decision. Scores were 116-111, 116-112 for Gassiev and 114-113 for  the 37 year-old Lebedev. In the very worst of boxing politics, Denis Lebedev will retain the WBA cruiserweight title because his promoter “convinced” the WBA that the title should not be on the line against an IBF mandatory. 
WBO / SEPT. 18, 2016: A professional boxing star was born as Ukrainian Oleksandr Usyk dethroned WBO cruiserweight champion Krzysztof Glowacki (26-1, 16 KOs) by twelve-round unanimous decision on Saturday night at the Ergo Arena in Gdansk, Poland.  The official scores were 119-109 and 117-111 (twice). Undefeated as a pro, Usyk was the 2012 heavyweight gold medal champion and also holds the distinction of being the 2011 World Amateur Champion at heavyweight and  2008 European Amateur Champion at light-heavyweight.