Fearsome Latvian cruiserweight world champion Mairis Briedis defends his coveted IBF world title this Saturday, as he travels to his mandatory challenger Jai Opetaia's home country of Australia for a dust-up on the Gold Coast.
After a successful amateur career that resulted in a 10-1 record, Briedis opted to turn pro in 2009 and picked a unanimous decision victory over Raulis Racilauskas, dropping Racilauskas twice in the third round. Briedis began to show his power following this bout, as he strung seven knockouts together in a row, including one over the British Danny Williams. In his ninth bout, Briedis fought outside of Latvia for the first time, as he stopped Jonathan Felton in two rounds in the US.
Briedis kept putting the wins together and became a bigger name throughout his journey. Briedis would gatecrash the IBF rankings in his 19th fight, as he stopped Danie Venter in two rounds, dropping his man in each round, to pick up the vacant IBF Inter-Continental title. The break into the WBC rankings came next when Briedis came through a scrappy affair with Olanrewajau Duradola with a ninth-round stoppage to pick up the WBC Silver title, putting him at the top of the WBC rankings. The current WBC champion at the time would be Tony Bellew, who would be facing BJ Flores in Liverpool. Briedis would make an appearance on that card, as he would bludgeon his way through Simon Vallily in three rounds.
Bellew would vacate the WBC belt, meaning Briedis would challenge for a vacant title. Briedis's shot at the belt would come against the veteran Marco Huck. Briedis would defeat Huck over 12 rounds to pick up his first world title. Briedis would next enter the inaugural cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series. All world champions had entered this tournament so it was a guarantee the winner would become undisputed. Briedis would defeat Mike Perez in the quarter-finals of the series by unanimous decision. Briedis would next go on to face WBO champion Oleksandr Usyk in the semi-final of the tournament. Briedis would give Usyk one of the toughest fights of this career but came up just short of victory as Usyk won by majority decision in a fight of the year contender. Usyk would go on to be the eventual winner of the Series.
Briedis would bounce back to defeat Brandon Deslaurier by shutout point's decision to shake off any ring rust, before entering the second cruiserweight World Boxing Super Series. Usyk had vacated his belts and embarked on a journey at heavyweight, and two of the vacant belts were inserted into the tournament. Briedis did not fight for a world title in his quarter-final, as he faced Noel Mikaelyan, picking up a unanimous decision victory. The semi-final saw Briedis square off with WBO champion Krzysztof Glowacki in what can only be described as a bizarre fight. The first round was business as usual, but the second round saw Briedis land an elbow. Briedis would then drop Glowacki. The bell also didn't ring at the end of the second as the pair continued to fight, which saw Glowacki get knocked out. Briedis was declared a third-round knockout winner but would be stripped of the WBO title at a later date.
Briedis was in the final, and he would face off with IBF champion Yuniel Dorticos. Briedis and Dorticos would produce an enthralling and close fight, but it would ultimately be Briedis being declared the winner by a majority decision. Briedis is now a three-time world champion and defended his IBF title against Artur Mann in his first defence. Briedis would stop Mann in three rounds.
IntuBoxing would catch up with Briedis before he embarked on his journey to the Gold Coast, as he discussed his upcoming bout, and calls for a rematch with former opponent Usyk.
Opetaia had a successful amateur career as he finished with a 20-5 record before turning pro in 2015. Opetaia would be successful on his pro debut, as he would defeat Isileli Fa by unanimous decision. Opetaia would string a further five victories together before he fought for his first title. Peter Brennan was the man standing across the ring from Opetaia as they would square off for the New South Wales heavyweight title. Opetaia wasted no time and knocked Brennan out in a round.
Opetaia continued his rise and would opt to switch down to cruiserweight. Opetaia's first cruiserweight title saw him enter the IBF rankings as he would stop Frankie Lopez in a round to become IBF Youth champion. The Australian title came in Opetaia's next bout, as he would stop Benjamin Kelleher in three rounds, following a hand injury to Kelleher. Opetaia would next enter the WBO rankings, as he dropped Lukas Paszkowsky in the first round of their fight, before stopping him in the second round for the WBO Asia Pacific title. The IBF Pan Pacific title would be picked up next time out as Opetaia would knock Kurtis Pegoraro out in two rounds.
Opetaia's KO streak came to an end when he would pick up a unanimous decision victory over Nikolas Charalampous to win the WBO global title. Opetaia would return to his knockout victories next though, as he would stop Mark Flanagan in eight rounds to add the IBF Asia Oceania title to his arsenal. Opetaia would rematch Benjamin Kelleher next, and stop him in six rounds, before going on to stop Daniel Russell in three rounds last time out to set up his huge clash with Briedis.
These two heavy cruiserweight punchers square off at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Broadbeach Australia, with many predicting that the bout won't go the full 12 rounds. The bout is shown on the Fite TV app in the UK and the broadcast begins at 9:30 am.