Mairis Briedis has not seen the ring since losing his IBF cruiserweight title to Jai Opetaia nearly two years ago. 

The pair put on an incredible show in Gold Coast, Australia. Tomorrow night they rematch on the undercard of Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Both men broke each other’s bones in arguably the Fight of the Year in 2022. Opetaia suffered two breaks in his jaw. 

“He broke my nose in the fourth round,” Briedis said exclusively to BoxingScene. “Bullseye! I don’t know how it could hit with an uppercut on the nose, that it broke like that. Then the cutman tells me that there is nothing he can do to help. The bleeding could not be stopped here. And it gave both me and the judges the feeling that my whole face is covered in blood, I can’t breathe because my nose was full of blood. The psychological feeling was also given to people, looking from the outside. It also gave both him and the judges such a sense of superiority. 

The biggest problem was that we got sick a week before the fight. We were told that our sparring partners – the two or three Australians who were there – they were left-handed – that they don’t talk to Opetaia at all. Their promoters had a big fall out. Of course that was a lie. The whole tactic of how we sparred… there were still three coaches, two sparring partners had three coaches. I thought, why three? One was sitting and peeping all the time, analyzing. That’s how all the boxing tactics were analyzed over the two weeks when we were sparring there. They said that promoters are not friends anymore. That’s how it was presented. They told him what I was going to do in the fight and how I was going to box. The coaches had told him everything. I don’t just assume they were told. They were told 100 per cent. The Australians themselves also said that afterwards.”

The rematch, for the vacant IBF cruiserweight belt, has been touted by both camps for the last year. Opetaia has since signed with Matchroom, securing stoppage wins over Jordan Thompson and Ellis Zorro.

“Of course I want to win and it’s always been like that,” Briedis added. “It would be stupid to say otherwise. As Mike Tyson once said: ‘Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.’ So let’s try not to miss that punch and not change our plans.”

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