Jai Opetaia becomes the new IBF Cruiserweight World Champion




In a massive upset that would easily be a contender for the upset of the year, Jai Opetaia (22-0, 17 KOs) has now beaten former three-time reigning Cruiserweight champion Mairis Breidis (28-2, 21 KOs).

Breidis put his IBF and Ring Cruiserweight titles on the line against Opetaia in a fight that many, including myself, thought was an easy routine defense of his titles, but how wrong we were.

In a performance that would rival any championship performance from any tough Australian for a world title, Opetaia shocked the world by dominating Breidis in a clinical and brutal performance that saw Opetaia break Breidis’ nose in the fourth. round, a moment that changed the course of the entire fight.

Additionally, it was revealed by commentator Ben Damon after the fight that Opetaia had broken his jaw in two places and spent the majority of the fight with a broken jaw.

With his footwork, power, and skill, Opetaia was able to use his distance to keep Breidis away from him and control the tempo of the fight while rarely getting into a fight with Breidis, although there were times when Breidis would have taken command, Opetaia was in control of the fight.

After 12 brutal rounds that will go down as some of the best in Australian boxing history, the judges unanimously gave the fight to Opetaia with the scorecards showing 116-112, 115-113, 116-112, all for Opetaia.

The only question now is what’s next for the new Australian boxing champion?

Obviously first a long convalescence to fix his broken jaw, but after these many opportunities exist, first obviously a rematch with Breidis or a unification fight with the other Cruiserweight champions.

(Photo by Peter Wallis/Getty Images)

WBO champion Lawrence Okolie, who has been pushing to fight Breidis for almost two years now, could be a real possibility as his promoter, Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn, has just entered the Australian market with Paro’s upcoming fight against Jarvis in September. .

With several Australian fighters already on her books, including current IBF Women’s Bantamweight Champion Ebanie Bridges, Olympian Skye Nicolson, Liam Paro, Demsey McKean and Brock Jarvis, Opetaia could be a new addition to the Matchroom stable.

WBC Cruiserweight Champion Ilunga Junior Makabu, a Don King fighter (that’s right, Don King is still around), would be the easiest unification fight for Opetaia (with the height and age advantage for Opetaia) while WBA champion Arsen Goulamiran would be an interesting fight as Goulamiran has beaten Australian fighters Kane Watts and Mark Flanagan before.

With this historic win, Opetaia joins the ranks of huge upset wins including Lionel Rose’s win over Fighting Harada in 1968, George Kambosos Jr’s win over Teofimo Lopez in 2021, and Jeff Horn’s win over Manny Pacquaio (ironically quite exactly five years to the day).

Opetaia now becomes Australia’s third current world champion, joining IBF champions Ebanie Bridges (bantamweight) and Cherneka Johnson (super bantamweight).

In my previous article I said this could be the best year in Australian boxing, now it is and there could still be more to come. Australian boxing is taking the world by storm.




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