Boxing 2022: Australian Jai Opetaia defeats Mairis Briedis to become world cruiserweight champion

Australia has a new world boxing champion after Jai Opetaia showed insane toughness to win an “incredible” title fight.

Australia has a new world boxing champion.

Jai Opetaia has stunned the boxing world, causing a huge upset over Mairis Briedis to win their IBF cruiserweight world title fight on the Gold Coast on Saturday night.

The epic battle went all the way, but Opetaia triumphed via unanimous decision (116-112 x 2, 115-113) to claim the title.

The 27-year-old came out shooting and gave a clinic to gain the upper hand in the early rounds of the fight.

Watch Jai Opetaia v Mairis Briedis compete for the IBF and Ring Magazine Cruiserweight titles. Saturday, July 2 from 7:00 PM AEST LIVE with Main Event on Kayo Sports & Foxtel. ORDER NOW >

But while Opetaia seemed to be getting stronger early in the fight, it was later revealed that he had broken his jaw in the second round.

Opetaia went on the attack when he assaulted Briedis, leaving the Let with a cut over his right eye after the opening round.

The Australian kept hammering and landed a brutal uppercut to Brieidis’ jaw at the end of the fourth round, leaving him so dazed that he went into the wrong corner with a bloody nose.

Main Event commentator Ben Damon said: “The uppercut sailed through causing damage and breaking the nose of champion Mairis Briedis, who didn’t know where he was.

“The champion looks nervous as the blood pours from his nose. Opetaia is boxing a clinic.”

Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech added: “He is beyond confused. He doesn’t know where he is at the moment.”

Somehow, Briedis recovered as the fight turned into a classic, with both boxers taking heavy punches and proving they have granite chins.

The 37-year-old rallied and landed some massive uppercuts that dealt serious damage to Opetaia’s already busted jaw.

Damon described Opetaia’s jaw as “very misshapen,” while Fenech added, “That granite jaw could have been broken.”

Damon later tweeted: “Ringside doctor believes Jai Opetaia suffered a ‘bilateral mandibular fracture’ (jaw fractured on both sides) likely in rounds 2 and 11.

“Obviously will need surgery. Mairis Briedis has visited the new champion’s dressing room to congratulate him and request a rematch.”

“He has shown that he is extraterrestrially strong. He still didn’t go down.” said Damon.

“This is an epic battle. An incredible battle. An absolute war between two warriors here on the Gold Coast.”

A cheering Opetaia was unable to speak after the fight and his trainer Mark Wilson revealed he broke his jaw in the second round.

Merciful in the defeat, Briedis went to pay his respects to Opetaia after the fight and revealed that Opetaia also broke his nose saying “it’s one-one”.

He said he was ill in the run-up but punched Opetaia and hinted he would welcome a rematch.

Opetaia becomes the first Australian to become world champion since Jeff Horn in 2017.

It is also the toughest division Australia has ever held for a world title.

It had been exactly five years since Jeff Horn defeated Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium.

Horn said: “I’m so excited for him, I feel like I’m shaking. It brings me back five years ago and winning the title and I’m so happy for him.

“He was a team-mate of mine in 2012 (at the Olympics), he’s such a skilled man and he showed it tonight. He did an absolutely amazing job. I’m very proud of him, just like everyone else.”

The boxing world was quick to praise Opetaia’s tremendous efforts.

Australian boxing great Barry Michael said: “Mairis Briedis is a great world champion with dynamite in both hands and we’ve seen that. And he hit him with a busted jaw.

“Phenomenal, beautiful story. It is life changing what this man has just done. It changes his life for him, but it will be legendary in Australian sport.”

WBO cruiserweight champion Lawrence Okolie clearly watched with interest and stated that he would like to take on Opetaia once his jaw is restored.

Okolie tweeted: “He must be enjoying those (sic) belts but OMG what a fight had just been set up. I’ll show Briedis how the fuck it’s done.’

Originally published as Australia has a new world boxing champion as Jai Opetaia wins ‘incredible’ cruiserweight title fight