As BoxingScene.com previously reported, Mairis Briedis (28-1, 20 KOs) will defend his IBF and Ring Magazine World Cruiserweight Titles against undefeated mandatory challenger Jai Opetaia (21-0, 17 KOs) on Wednesday May 11 at the Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre in Broadbeach, Queensland, Australia.
Briedis captured the IBF and Ring Magazine World Titles when defeating Yuniel Dorticos in the final of the World Boxing Super Series in September 2020, becoming a three-time World Champion.
Following a successful defence of his belts against German challenger Artur Mann in Riga in October 2021, the 37-year-old will now travel down under to face fast-rising Australian star Opetaia on his home turf. The fight was originally scheduled for April 6 but was pushed back after Briedis contracted Covid.
“I look forward to coming to Australia to defend my World Titles,” said Briedis. “I know my opponent is a good boxer. He is a southpaw who is undefeated and who has had a very decent amateur career. As always, I will give my all in training camp and I will come to Australia to show my best boxing. I hope me and Jai can put on a great boxing spectacle for the fans.”
Sydney-born southpaw Optetai is a decorated amateur, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Youth World Championships and represented Australia at the 2012 Olympics and 2014 Commonwealth Games. Following his amateur success, the 26-year-old made his professional debut in 2015 and has earned his shot at Briedis’ Cruiserweight crown with an impressive run of 21 victories.
“It’s a dream come true to get a shot at the World Title and on top of that it’s happening right here on the Gold Coast which is brilliant,” said Opetaia. “I’m a resident in Surfers Paradise so you can’t get any more Gold Coast than that. This is my chance to announce myself to the world. I want to bring home another World Title to Queensland just like Jeff Horn did.”
The fight, which will be promoted by Dean Lonergan for D and L Events in association with Wasserman Boxing, will be the first World Title bout to be held in Australia since Jeff Horn defended his crown against Gary Corcoran just over five years ago in Brisbane.
“This will be a fantastic occasion and I applaud Tourism Events Queensland, Major Events Gold Coast and Gold Coast Mayor Tom Tate for throwing their support behind what will be a very special event,” said Lonergan.
“We remember that fight (Horn-Corcoran) and also that incredible day when ‘The Hornet’ defeated Manny Pacquiao to win the World Title at Suncorp Stadium in 2017.
“Now we are getting right behind Jai to achieve his dream and bring home another World Title to Queensland and on his own turf on the Gold Coast.”
Despite his Australian counterpart's optimism, Briedis’ promoter Kalle Sauerland is confident the champion will be returning to Latvia with the belts.
“Mairis Briedis is a three-time World Champion who has consistently fought the best boxers out there,” said Sauerland. “He’s coming to Australia as World Champion and will be leaving as World Champion. His knockout power is sensational but also his technique, his prowess and his finishing abilities. It’s time for Mairis to show once again why he is the number one Cruiserweight on the planet.”