The WBO has ordered an immediate rematch between cruiserweight world titlist Mairis Briedis and former titleholder Krzysztof Glowacki after a lengthy appeals process brought by Glowacki in July following his controversial third-round knockout loss to Briedis on June 15 in the semifinals of the World Boxing Super Series.
With the rematch ordered, it leaves in limbo the status of the World Boxing Super Series tournament final, which was supposed to be a title unification bout between Briedis and Yunier Dorticos. That fight was originally penciled in for Dec.14 but never formally announced while tournament organizers awaited the outcome of Glowacki's appeal.
Briedis and Dorticos could go through with the final as planned but with only Dorticos' 200-pound world title at stake rather than it being a unification bout because part of the WBO's ruling said if Briedis does not fight Glowacki next he will be stripped of the title.
Three arbitrators who heard the appeal voted 2-1 in favor of Briedis being ordered to give Glowacki an immediate rematch.
The decision was outlined in a 25-page ruling issued by the WBO on Friday, a copy of which was obtained by ESPN.
"This was a win for Glowacki. A split decision win, but a win nonetheless," attorney Scott Shaffer, who represents Glowacki, told ESPN on Saturday. "Briedis must give Glowacki an immediate rematch or else move forward in the World Boxing Super Series without the WBO championship. I know Glowacki wants the rematch and is looking forward to settling matters with Briedis in the ring."
In early July, the WBO reviewed video of the fight and ruled that Briedis had intentionally fouled Glowacki and that referee Robert Byrd made multiple errors in officiating the fight, which took place in Riga, Latvia, Briedis' hometown. While the sanctioning organization acknowledged that it was powerless to overturn the decision to a no contest as sought by Glowacki, it did have the ability to order a rematch.
After the video review, the WBO strongly recommended that the Briedis-Dorticos winner defend the title against Glowacki within 120 days after the completion of the tournament, but that was before Glowacki's appeal was heard.
Briedis (26-1, 19 KOs), 34, scored three knockdowns against Glowacki (31-2, 19 KOs), 33, of Poland, a wild fight that ended in a storm of controversy.
In the second round, Glowacki nailed Briedis with a left hand behind the head, which is illegal although his punch did not appear purposeful. Briedis retaliated with an elbow that caught Glowacki square on the jaw and knocked him down. Byrd missed Glowacki's rabbit punch but docked one point from Breidis for the elbow while ordering a hurt Glowacki to get to his feet.
Briedis scored two knockdowns later in the round, but the second one came way after the bell rang to end the round. The bell was ringing continually to signal the end of the round and while the broadcasters, crowd, fighter corners and the boxers all had heard it -- the fighters even said afterward they knew the bell rang -- they continued to fight for at least another 10 seconds with Briedis scoring a knockdown with a right hand. Byrd was oblivious, claiming he had not heard the bell. Glowacki had not recovered by the time the third round began and Briedis dropped him with another clean head shot, prompting Byrd to stop the fight at 27 seconds.
In its ruling on Glowacki's appeal, the WBO's world championship committee said it had "no doubt" that Briedis violated the organization's rules and "the fundamental principles of the organization" with his illegal elbow.
"Under the specific circumstances of this case, Glowacki should be given the opportunity of competing for the WBO (cruiserweight title) immediately," the ruling said. "Making Glowacki wait 120 days after the competition of the WBSS tournament is an inadequate remedy, even though in the right direction. Among the factors considered that moves us to conclude that the remedy provided is inadequate is that the final of the WBSS tournament has not yet been scheduled.
Consequently, Glowacki might end up waiting approximately a year (to get another title shot).
"On the other hand, allowing Briedis to defend the (title) in the finals of the WBSS tournament constitutes a reward for having won the WBO title by violating the WBO regulations."
The WBO ruled that an immediate rematch between Glowacki and Briedis should take within 120 days of the issuance of Friday's ruling.
It also "strongly recommended" that the WBSS consider scheduling the tournament final after the rematch it ordered and said that if Briedis does not give Glowacki an immediate rematch he would be stripped of the title. If that happens, the WBO ruled that Glowacki would fight for the vacant title against the next-ranked cruiserweight, which is former titlist Firat Arslan (47-8-3, 32 KOs), 49, of Germany.