Home Boxing News Jai Opetaia refuses to overlook Mairis Briedis, promoter predicts a knockout

Jai Opetaia refuses to overlook Mairis Briedis, promoter predicts a knockout

Jai Opetaia. Photo credit: The Sporting News

Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia 24-0 (19) could be forgiven for thinking his rematch against Mairis Briedis will be a routine title defence when they step into the ring at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia on Saturday night.

After all, the 28-year-old Australian has already come through the adversity of a double-broken jaw to defeat the 39-year-old Latvian veteran on points two years ago.

Briedis has not boxed since, while Opetaia has delivered two devestating knockouts in the past eight months while continuing to improve in the gym.

But Opetaia sees this fight, which will also be for the vacant IBF title, as the last roll of the dice for Briedis, who he believes will through everything he has left at him in his bid to become a four-time world cruiserweight champion.

“I feel like he’s going to come out more aggressive in this one. I feel like if he sits back and tries to box with me, he’s going to have another bad day at the office,” Opetaia said to Boxing News.

“I’m expecting a lot more pressure, but I’ve got an answer for everything he brings. I’ve grown as a fighter and gotten stronger and fitter.

“I’m chasing belts, that’s it. I’m not chasing names. I’m chasing belts. So, whoever has the belts, that’s who I want to fight.

“I don’t sit back and watch these fighters. I focus on my own path. I train hard every day, and whatever game they give me, that’s who I fight.”

Opetaia has gone from the hunter to the hunted since his championship win against Briedis at the Gold Coast Convention Centre in Broadbeach, Australia in July 2022.

“Definitely, I feel like I’m their motivation,” he said. “They know I’m in the trenches. They know I’m working hard. They know when they fight me, they have to come correct.

“I’m hoping to roll out of this injury-free and then roll into the next fight. It’s been good staying active. My career has been a lot of setbacks. To be able to roll into this third fight in six or seven months, it feels good to stay active and we’re on this big card.”

Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn, who co-promotes Opetaia alongside Australian outfit Tasman Fighters, says he is expecting his boxer to improve on his performance in their first fight.

“It’s a really tough fight, I’ve got to be honest. The first fight, if you watch it back, it was a war. It was a close fight,” Hearn said to iFL TV.

“Briedis broke Jai Opetaia’s jaw in two places. He showed unbelievable heart that night. He came through and got the points victory. It was a Fight of the Year contender.

“A couple of years on, I believe that Jai has gotten better. I feel like his confidence is through the roof now. What Briedis has left, he’s going to have a really big roll of the dice.

“I think it’s a really, really good fight. Look, with all due respect to the last two opponents, Jordan Thompson and [Ellis] Zorro, who are very good British cruiserweight, he [Opetaia] was much too good for them.

“Now you’re stepping up a level and I expect it to be a very competitive fight. But I do think he can stop him [Briedis] and I think he’ll make a major statement on Saturday.”