Aussie Jai Opetaia was all business ahead of his first world title fight, but one act from the champ got under the skin of the challenger.

Jai Opetaia’s IBF cruiserweight world title fight against Mairis Breidis is almost here after a “catastrophic” injury just a matter of months ago.

The 27-year-old Aussie’s shot at the world title will come against the top ranked Latvian cruiserweight, who’s only loss came against Oleksandr Usyk, the now heavyweight champion who claimed the undisputed cruiserweight crown first.

Watch Jai Opetaia v Mairis Briedis battle for the IBF and Ring Magazine Cruiserweight Titles. Saturday 2 July from 7PM AEST LIVE with Main Event on Kayo Sports & Foxtel. ORDER NOW >

Opetaia has been stuck fighting on the local scene, demolishing local competition and setting up a 21-0 record, including 17 KOs, including 16 finishes in his last 17 fights.

He has been emphatically the best in the region and now gets to try his hand against the 28-1 Breidis, widely regarded as the best cruiserweight in the world.

“I’ve waited a long time for this opportunity and man, I can’t wait,” Opetaia said during the press conference. “I feel ready. You know, I know he’s a great fighter. But you know, I feel on the new generation of great coming through. You know, all these done, that’s all in the past. Now. It’s my time now.

“I know this is a big step up from my past competition, but my last fight I blew them out of the water. I’ve shown every time I was in the ring that I was levels above I was on that world stage level.”

Breidis was in a joking mood however, poking fun at the promoters for talking up their charges.

He was also wearing a crocodile tooth hat, in reference to Crocodile Harry, the Latvian-born soldier turn crocodile hunter in Australia who inspired Crocodile Dundee.

“When I sit here listening to Dean and Kalle (promoters Lonergan and Sauerland), I laugh because it’s like two big mans and speak like two small boys, ‘no my car is best, no, my car is best,” Breidis joked. “It’s very very funny.”

He was also asked about being 37 and whether he was slowing down.

He replied: “Maybe,” to laughing from the audience.

As for any predictions, Breidis said he won’t know until they’re in the ring.

“Like Mike Tyson said, you know, all the plans change after one punch to the head and we’ll see what kind of fight we make after the first round,” Briedis said. “We need to feel each other and then we dancing and punching and do everything in the ring. All the best.”

After the press conference, WWOS reported that Opetaia did not see the funny side of Briedis’ attire.

“Bro, all these f**king crocodile hats, the suits, it doesn’t mean nothing to me,” Opetaia said.

“All that matters is that f**king title. All this little s**t, I don’t care about it, it’s all stupid.”

‘Catastrophic’ disaster behind Aussie nightmare

It’s been a long road to the fight after Breidis caught Covid, before Opetaia suffered a rib cartilage injury.

Opetaia’s promoter Dean Lonergan said he was lucky to be lining up at all because of the severity of the injury.

“I’ve got to be honest, I cannot believe we’re sitting here today, mainly because of Jai’s recuperative powers,” Lonergan said.

“I think without doubt, this is maybe Australia’s toughest boxer and maybe Australia’s toughest athlete full stop having seen some of the adversity he’s had to overcome.

“He’s fought five years with a broken hand and he did it to keep going because he needed the money to fight. It wasn’t until we realised how bad it was, going back about a year and a half ago, we sort of forced him to go and get it fixed. He didn’t want to.

“And the injury that he had only seven eight weeks ago I thought was catastrophic. Jai again had surgery on that rib injury where his cartilage was torn away from the bone is probably the most painful injury one can have.

“For him to be back here, ready to go for our for Saturday night is nothing short of astounding.”

Lonergan said he believed the fight would be “an absolute war”.

He added Breidis was “at the end of his reign” and that it would be the 37-year-old’s “last fight” after Opetaia defeats him.

Wasserman Boxing’s Kalle Sauerland joked Lonergan was like Don King, and that “I feel like we can already pack up leave the belt and go home”.

“There’s a little thing in between the belt and Jai at the moment,” Sauerland said before listing many of his three-time world champions achievements.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *