Jai Opetaia made a mockery of the bookies as he outpointed Mairis Briedis to win IBF world cruiserweight title in Queensland, Australia.
Opetaia was relatively unknown outside of his home country of Australia, but announced himself on the world stage following a bruising encounter with now former champion Briedis.
Opetaia rose to the occasion as he didn’t get overwhelmed by having his first world title shot in his home country. Opetaia opened up a cut early on Briedis and took control from there, Briedis did get some hooks through and over Opetaia’s high guard, but the Australian man’s class shone through as he traded with Briedis, with his work showing to be more effective.
OPETAIA BEATS BRIEDIS via UD?????? He outboxed and beat up the cruiserweight king, showing a great chin too as Briedis came on strong in the late rounds ???????? This clip is from Round 4 where Opetaia hurt Briedis with a beautiful corkscrew uppercut ???????? #BriedisOpetaia#Boxingpic.twitter.com/g3TdWP0Y4J
— No Nonsense Boxing (@NNBoxing) July 2, 2022
The momentum began to shift in the second half of the bout as Opetaia seemed to slow down from his relentless work rate. Opetaia would be caught with a snapping uppercut, but weathered the storm to finish the full 12 rounds.
The pair embraced as they awaited the scorecards, which read 116-112×2 and 115-113 all in favour of local hero Opetaia, as he would be crowned the new IBF cruiserweight champion sparking jubilant celebrations down under.
Following the bout, Briedis entered Opetaia's dressing room to congratulate the new champion, where Opetaia revealed that Briedis broke his jaw in round two.
????Mairis Breidis CONGRATULATES Jai Opetaia after their hard fought battle
Opetaia also stated he BROKE HIS JAW in the second round on route to the unanimous decision victory????@WassermanBoxing | @BriedisMairis | @SauerlandBros#Boxing#BreidisOpetaia#JaiOpetaia#MairisBreidispic.twitter.com/W8u7h6yjE8
— IntuBoxing (@IntuBoxing) July 2, 2022
This bout would be exactly five years after the seismic upset victory for fellow Australian Jeff Horn when he dethroned Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane.