Via Craig Daly: Mairis Briedis (29-2, 20 KOs) says he wants a rematch after losing the IBF cruiser title to 3rd contender Jai Opetaia (22-0, 17 KOs) by unanimous decision. 12 rounds on Saturday night at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Queensland, Australia.
A rematch between the two fighters would likely have to wait eight to 12 months, due to the broken jaw Opetaia suffered during the fight. Opetaia battled a jaw injury from the second half but excelled to avoid being stopped. 37-year-old Briedis broke her second round nose.
Opetaia’s move saved him in rounds six through twelve as he was hit by Briedis with continuous shelling.
Briedis took advantage of Opetaia being unable to block or break out of his top lane, so repeatedly hit him with those hits one after another. These are huge top lanes, and it’s amazing how Opetaia can execute them without stopping.
Injuries will take time for Opetaia to heal and his management probably won’t want to throw him back with heavy-handed Briedis in his first fight in 2023.
The fight is a battle of two innings. While 27-year-old Opetaia controlled the action for the first six innings, Briedis bounced back like wildfire in the final six rounds to dominate. In the end, the judges gave the victory to Opetaia by points
The most appropriate score for the match is the difference of 115-113 converted by Katsuhiko Nakamura. Opetaia deserved to win, but it was an almost razor-sharp fight and certainly not won by the 8-4 score that two of the umpires scored.
“Congratulations to the champion, but I hope I will come back again,“Briedis said after the battle while visiting the victorious Jai Opetaia in his dressing room.
“Second half? No, twelfth round,” said Brian when asked if he knew he had broken Opetaia’s jaw in the second half. “I think out of eleven. In round two? S ***, I don’t know.
“Yes, but I broke my nose in the second round. It too. 1-1. I have been sick for the past four days, and this is a problem for me. But I like it because I will come back again. We do a rematch. A-okay,” said Briedis.
Young 27-year-old Nampaw Jai Opetaia boxed well throughout the competition, crashing into the older boxer Briedis, and catching him as he entered to try and coordinate it.
In the final six innings, the pace of the match caught up with Opetaia, as he faded and was defeated by Briedis. When the fight ended, Briedis took control of the contest and dealt with all the penalties.
You can’t blame Opetaia for struggling in the second half because he was fighting with a broken jaw. Also, Opetaia has never gone 12 laps during his seven-year professional career, so he didn’t have to fight for his physical exertion to build it.
“I didn’t know it was broken until the 11th round when you could clearly see that something was really wrong with it,” said Opetaia coach Mark Wilson. Foxsports.com.au after the bout.
“I thought, ‘We’ve made it through, we just have one thing to go. Run. Run.’ I believe we won two or three or four innings, I think. We started maybe losing a few late. I said, ‘Just move, man. We have to move. Don’t do anything silly. Move, move. ‘ We got through that. “
Both fighters show big hearts by fighting through their wounds, and it’s a testament to their bravery that they can endure pain.