He had previously only lost once, and it was against none other than current heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk. There was no question that Mairis Briedis would win his IBF cruiserweight title fight against Jai Opetaia on Saturday. Opetaia of Australia was contending for the title in his own country, but most thought the 21to 0 contender couldn’t beat the 28 to 1 Breidis.
Opetaia boxed effectively in the opening round, but Breidis was clumsy. Surprisingly, Opetaia, the southpaw, appeared even better in the second round, firing and landing well. By the third round, Breidis appeared to be the more powerful of the two competitors. The referee had no objections to the competitors interacting on the inside, which may have benefited Breidis. The fourth, on the other hand, was a standout for Opetaia, who outlanded and outslicked his opponent, seemingly frustrating the Latvian champion.
The fifth was all Opetaia, who displayed scorching speed and a great combination of punches as Breidis’ face began to bleed profusely. The reigning champion was only able to deliver a powerful and effective blow on his opponent in the closing seconds or so. The sixth round featured Opetaia’s southpaw jab and footwork. True, Breidis had a few hits, but the round belonged to the slick Aussie. Breidis, on the other hand, had a better seventh. He may not have done enough to win the chapter, but he was definitely in it.
Things appeared to be turning around in the eighth, as the stronger Breidis asserted himself, hitting his opponent and preventing Opetaia from outslicking him. In the ninth, Opetaia established himself just by being quicker on the draw. The tenth round was tight, with Breidis enjoying more show moments owing to the power of his blows. The eleventh was slower since both guys were plainly weary. Breidis spent the chapter trying to land cleanly, and Opetaia went down (and then got back up) after a push in the twelfth and final round.
Opetaia won a unanimous decision and the IBF cruiserweight championship.
Mairis Briedis is a professional boxer from Latvia. He is a three-time cruiserweight world champion, having held the IBF and Ring belts from 2020 to 2022, as well as the WBC and WBO crowns from 2017 to 2018. He became the first Latvian to hold a world boxing title after capturing the WBC belt in 2017. In 2017, he received the Order of the Three Stars. He has faced world champions Oleksander Usyk, Marco Huck, Krzysztof Gowacki, Manuel Charr, and Yuniel Dorticos as a professional. BoxRec, The Ring magazine, and the Transnational Boxing Rankings Board all rate him as the world’s top active cruiserweight as of October 2021, and BoxRec ranks him as the eighth-best active fighter pound for pound.
Jai Opetaia’s Amateur Career
During his amateur career, Opetaia won the Light Heavyweight title at the 2011 Junior World Championships before qualifying for the 2012 Olympics as a Heavyweight at the age of 16, making him Australia’s youngest Olympic boxer.
In July 2011, Opetaia won the Junior World Championship in Kazakhstan.
He defeated New Zealander David Light in the Olympic qualification in Canberra 2012, winning 15:10.
Opetaia won a bronze medal in the heavyweight class at the AIBA World Youth Championships in 2012. Later the same year, Opetaia competed in the 2012 Olympics, but did not make it through the first round.