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Aussie boxer aims to score biggest upset in nation’s HISTORY when he takes on world champ Saturday

Forget George Kambosos on Teofimo Lopez and Jeff Horn on Manny Pacquiao: Australian boxer aims to score biggest upset in country’s HISTORY as he takes on world champion this weekend

  • Jai Opetaia takes on Mairis Briedis on the Gold Coast on Saturday night
  • The Let is the reigning IBF and Ring Magazine world cruiserweight champion
  • Opetaia has had surgery on his left hand and ribs in the past four months
  • Briedis has won 28 of his 29 professional fights, 20 of them by KO
  • The fight falls on the fifth anniversary of Jeff Horn’s victory over Manny Pacquiao

Jai Opetaia has a shot at becoming world cruiserweight champion on Saturday when he takes on reigning title holder Mairis Briedis on the Gold Coast.

The Latvian (28-1, 20KO) is making his second defense of the IBF and Ring Magazine belts he won two years ago by majority decision against Yuniel Dorticos.

Brieidis’ only career loss was a small point decision against undefeated heavyweight and cruiserweight champion Oleksandr Usyk four years ago, while Opetaia (21-0, 17KO) has not suffered a defeat since turning pro.

Jai Opetaia hopes to become world cruiserweight champion on Saturday

Jai Opetaia hopes to become world cruiserweight champion on Saturday

However, the Australian has not stepped into a ring for 18 months due to a combination of Covid-19 and injuries to his ribs and hand, from which he has only recently recovered.

Speaking with the Sydney Morning HeraldPromoter Dean Lonergan suggested that Opetaia’s defeat of Brieidis would be the biggest upset in Australian boxing history.

“In my opinion, this would be the biggest shock in Australian boxing history. […] I don’t think there is an athlete in boxing history who has had to overcome what Jai has had to overcome,” he said.

Lonergan is well versed when it comes to stunning upsets as he was the man who staged the fight between Jeff Horn and Manny Pacquiao.

The Australian takes on reigning IBF and Ring Magazine world cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis (left) at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Broadbeach

The Australian takes on reigning IBF and Ring Magazine world cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis (left) at the Gold Coast Convention Center in Broadbeach

The Latvian has won 28 of his 29 professional fights, 20 of them by KO

The Latvian has won 28 of his 29 professional fights, 20 of them by KO

The Australian defeated the then WBO welterweight champion by unanimous decision at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium in one of the biggest setbacks in boxing history.

Incidentally, Opetaia’s fight against Brieidis at the Gold Coast Convention Center falls five years to the day since Horn defeated Pacquiao.

“It’s really cool that he can do it on the same day as me,” said Horn, who was Opetaia’s teammate at the 2012 London Olympics.

“He has a big challenge ahead of him, it’s a tough job, but I’m sure he’s done the job and has faith in himself that he can do it.

The fight falls five years to the day since Jeff Horn stunned Manny Pacquiao (above)

The fight falls five years to the day since Jeff Horn stunned Manny Pacquiao (above)

“The 2012 Olympics crew has done very well in the professional boxing ranks and hopefully he continues to do that.

“If he can get this win, he’ll have a lot to talk about. He went through a lot to get to this position.”

Horn isn’t the only Australian boxer to defy all odds on the biggest podium, with George Kambosos stripping Teofimo Lopez of his WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight belts last November.

Last November, George Kambosos stripped Teofimo Lopez of his WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight belts at Madison Square Garden

Last November, George Kambosos stripped Teofimo Lopez of his WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight belts at Madison Square Garden

Opetaia has struggled with a hand injury for most of the past five years and underwent surgery earlier this year to address the problem, before going back under the knife in April after suffering a rib injury.

Despite the fitness issues, Horn is backing his former Australian team-mate to get the job done on Saturday.

‘I don’t think it will be a bigger upset’ [than his win over Pacquiao]because I know how good Jai is,” he said.

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