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Cruiserweights Briedis, Huck to fight for vacant interim world title

Cruiserweight contenders Mairis Briedis and Marco Huck will square off for a vacant interim world title on April 1 at Westfalenhalle in Dortmund, Germany, Huck Sports Promotion announced on Thursday.

The WBC made the interim belt available to its leading contenders because its world titleholder, England's Tony Bellew, is moving up to heavyweight for a huge-money showdown with countryman and former heavyweight and cruiserweight world titleholder David Haye on March 4 at the O2 Arena in London.

The WBC granted Bellew's request to take the fight with Haye rather than face mandatory challenger Briedis next. After Bellew-Haye, Bellew must decide if he will remain at heavyweight or return to cruiserweight. If he returns to the 200-pound cruiserweight division he will be obligated to next face the Briedis-Huck winner. If Bellew remains at heavyweight, the Briedis-Huck winner will become the full titleholder.

Huck (40-3-1, 27 KOs), 32, of Germany, was the dominant cruiserweight in the world from 2009 to 2015, making a division-record tying 13 defenses before getting knocked out in the 11th round in a big upset by Poland's Krzysztof Glowacki in August 2015.

Huck has won both of his fights since, a 10th-round knockout of rival Ola Afolabi in their fourth fight in February and a unanimous decision against Dmytro Kucher in November.

Huck suffered a right hand fracture against Kucher but was medically cleared to train this week.

"Mairis Briedis is still undefeated and has the reputation of being a very unpleasant opponent with a very hard punch," Huck said. "I prefer opponents of this caliber, for the bigger the challenge, the better I perform. I will be preparing myself very intensely and conscientiously, because if I do my homework well, a fight is usually decided in my favor before it gets even started."

The big-punching Briedis (21-0, 18 KOs), 32, of Latvia, is coming off a third-round knockout of Simon Vallily in October in a fight that was on the undercard of Bellew's defense against B.J. Flores. It was supposed to be the last fight before Bellew and Briedis met for the mandatory fight.

But with Bellew getting the fight Haye, Briedis is fine with fighting Huck instead.

"I am incredibly happy about the upcoming fight against Marco Huck," Briedis said. "He is a true cruiserweight legend and already has shown a lot of incredible fights. Well, in the next fight however we will fight for the WBC (interim) title, which means for both of us all or nothing. I will regard the fight as a one-time chance so I can show my full potential. I know that Marco will also give his best. Therefore the better man may win."