Mairis Briedis places her IBF cruiser title this Saturday against Australia’s undefeated but unproven Jai Opetaia. Will the Latvian prove to be still the king of cruisers, or has his time passed? Luke G. Williams previews the action…
As a trivia in the surreal setting, this Saturday’s IBF first class cruiser belt war between the champions of Latvia Mairis Briedis and Australian challenger Jai Opetaia has several defeats.
When Briedis arrived at this week’s press conference wearing a Crocodile Dundee style hat, a lengthy debate over who exactly was the inspiration for Paul Hogan’s iconic Aussie character was reopened.
“The hat is from the movie, Crocodile Dundee, the guy who was originally a countryman from Latvia,” claimed Briedis, referring to the theory – beloved by fellow countrymen and women – that a man He was born in their border named Arvid Blumenthal as the ‘original’ Crocodile Dundee. By contrast, most Australians see Rod Ansell as the role model for Hogan’s wildly successful 1986 film.
For her part, 27-year-old Opetaia doesn’t care. He just wanted to be in the ring. “Dude, all these damn alligator hats, clothes, it doesn’t mean anything to me,” snapped the Sydney-born pugilist athlete with mixed Samoan and European Australian heritage. glass. “All that matters is that damn title. All this crap, I don’t care about it, it’s all stupid. “
It’s a good point – if gross – made. After all, Saturday’s fight won’t settle the debate over who the original Crocodile Dundee was, but it will settle – at least for now – the question of who is king of the cruiser class. Briedis may ‘just’ hold the IBF cruiserweight crown, but due to his win in the 200lbs World Boxing Super Series tournament back in 2020, most sane observers consider him ‘the men’ in the weight class.
That gripping WBSS tournament culminated in Briedis expertly dissecting Cuba’s Yuniel Dorticos in the final, a match that earned him recognition as a cruiser class champion by ‘The Ring’ magazine, adding Credibility for his claim was seen as the division’s new linear ruler, after 200 lbs undisputed king Oleksandr Usyk moved into heavyweight.
Briedis – of course – gave Usyk the toughest test of his professional career to date, giving up a slim majority decision in the white-hot atmosphere of Arena Riga as his hometown. back in the match of 2018. It remains the only downside on Latvia’s 28-1 (20 KO) professional ledger.
However, for all of his accomplishments since turning pro in 2009, there are significant question marks looming for Briedis as this weekend’s clash with hungry and undefeated Opetaia at Gold Coast Convention Center accessible. Now 37, it seems reasonable to question whether Latvians can decline. He has certainly been inactive, this is only his fourth fight in four years.
Australia’s fighting brothers are certainly speaking up for Opetaia’s chances. “The first time I saw Jai spar, I thought to myself: ‘Wow.’ I have never seen such a level of skill,” Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech told Sporting News this week. “It’s just second to none, he has everything. Don’t ignore him, he’s a great talent. Anyone who says that Briedis is too big, too strong and many things, they don’t know Jai Opetaia.
“They don’t know how hungry he is, they don’t know the level of skill he has. I’ve been around it for years, I’ve been watching him very closely. Don’t be surprised at all. We’re going to have a world cruiser champion, I’m confident of that.
Fenech may be right but on the basis of his 21-0 career (17 KOs) to date, Opetaia’s true pedigree is almost indistinguishable, that’s the omission of even names. recognizable in his profile. So the case for a tough win is slim, given Opetaia’s amateur record is good enough, including a junior world title in heavyweight and an appearance at the 2012 Olympics in heavyweight. heavyweight, where he was eliminated in the first round by bronze medal overall. Medal winner Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan in a tournament was eventually won, deftly enough, by Usyk.
If Briedis really starts to fall then perhaps Opetaia can be a irritant, but the Latvian’s class and experience will most likely speak for themselves, as he prevails through a late finish or decisive point. wide.