Jai Opetaia stuns Mairis Briedis, crowned IBF world champion
Jai Opetaia has become Australia’s latest boxing world champion with a stunning victory over Mairis Briedis on the Gold Coast.
In a result that should stand alongside any of Australian boxing’s greatest upsets, Opetaia claimed the IBF and The Ring cruiserweight titles by unanimous decision in a brutal fight at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre.
Two ringside judges scored the fight 116-112, with the third scoring it 115-113.
Five years to the day since Jeff Horn stunned Manny Pacquiao in Brisbane, Opetaia wrote his own fairytale just days after his 27th birthday.
Briedis, 37, had only tasted defeat once in his career, that coming against current unified heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk.
However, despite a stirring comeback in the second half of the fight, the Latvian fighter was unable to knock out Opetaia, who absorbed some thunderous shots in the closing stages.
The Aussie showed real grit to overcome a severely damaged jaw in the final round as Briedis unleashed all his power in an attempt to retain his belts.
Opetaia improves his unbeaten professional record to 22-0, while Briedis suffered his second professional defeat to move to 28-2.
Opetaia, who was Australia’s youngest Olympic boxer when he competed in London aged 16, sobbed into the shoulder of his support team as his arm was raised, becoming Australia’s only current male world champion.
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