Jai Opetaia (25-0, 19 KOs) was victorious over Mairis Briedis (28-3, 20 KOs) in their rematch on Saturday night, capturing the vacant IBF cruiserweight title at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Unfortunately, Opetaia’s performance fell flat, especially in the championship rounds. His unwillingness to let his hands go and make it a war against Briedis like he said he was going to do bored the fight. The scores were 117-112, 116-112 and 116-112.

Briedis stole the show despite losing, as he was the one making the fight happen in the championship rounds, showing more courage than the younger fighter Opetaia.

Briedis’ Late Surge and Opetaia’s Apparent Fear

While the 28-year-old Australian Opetaia did enough to get the win, Briedis’ late surge in the final three rounds, applying nonstop pressure had Jai rattled.

Opetaia’s unwillingness to mix it with Briedis left fans at ringside with disappointed looks. On social media, fans widely criticized Opetaia.

Trailing badly, Briedis took the fight to Opetaia in round ten, bloodying his nose and bruising his left eye. It appeared that once Opetaia saw his own blood, and got on his bike, trying not to get hit.

Earlier in the contest, Opetaia had bloodied Briedis’ nose with a left hand in the sixth, and he looked confident during that part. However, things changed when Briedis went after Opetaia. It was eye-opening to see the transformation in Opetaia. He did not like being pressured.

From Confident to Clinch-Happy

Opetaia clinched from the tenth round on, showing no interest in meeting Briedis to have the war that he’d repeatedly said he wanted. On the occasion when Briedis would hit Opetaia to the back of the head, he would look at the referee and motion to him, wanting him to step in and warn Briedis. It made Opetaia look weak.

Fans at ringside appeared to rally behind Briedis in the final three rounds, cheering him, as he was on the attack nonstop, chasing Opetaia around the ring. It should have been the other way around the youth, speed, and power advantage Opetaia had in this fight.



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