Jai Opetaia Jaw Injury Latest News Australia Champion World Title Mairis Briedis Win

Jai Opetaia is still struggling to eat after breaking his jaw in an incredible title fight earlier this month, but that hasn’t stopped the new world champion from smiling.

Opetaia (22-0, 17 KOs) etched his name into boxing folklore earlier this month when he defeated Mairis Briedis by unanimous decision on the Gold Coast, despite suffering a broken jaw early in the fight.

After a valiant battle with pain, the undefeated fighter dethroned the cruiserweight king and was crowned IBF world champion.

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Opetaia stood silently with his eyes closed as the referee made his dream come true and announced the judge’s decision to the Queensland crowd.

But it was a moment that felt strangely familiar to the New South Welshman, who replayed that night over and over in his head before his historic win.

“Every night before I went to bed, I imagined the fight as if I couldn’t help it. It would keep me up at night. I was obsessed with it,” he told foxsports.com.au on Wednesday.

“Every day I trained and thought about fighting and winning. If I get into this situation, I have to get out of it.

“Because I know you have to be realistic. Battles are won in the gym. If I hadn’t prepared properly, I could have lost the fight.

“I envisioned the fight that a lot of times when the fight came, it was like I was already in the ring. I watched his matches, I imagined them. I felt so relaxed when I left.

“It was like I had to be there. It was like I was meant to be in that place at that time.

“You’re missing out on a lot. I’m really family oriented (and) my parents split up at the time, which was a thing for us. My Nan passed away, my other grandfather is very ill and I can’t see him. I moved to the state.

“I sacrificed all these things for my job to be able to do this.”

Opetaia had the upper hand and in the end that’s all that matters, but victory didn’t come easily as he traded blows with his determined opponent over the course of 12 rounds.

His Latvian opponent from behind in the fight threw a number of power punches and power shots late in the match to try and turn the tide.

The Australian had a badly broken jaw on both sides, but his the team was unaware of the injury until the penultimate round of the night.

“The first half of the match, I think it was between the second and fourth rounds, I don’t remember specifically. I tried to pinpoint the fight, but there were a few shots,” he said.

“It was a bit painful and it was going down a bit. It is what it is, you just have to keep pushing.

“It was a s*ss to be honest. I’ve just been eating soups and stuff, can’t chew anything yet but it’s getting better.

“I didn’t have the celebration I wanted, but it was good.”

Boxer Jai Opetaia is recovering in hospital from a broken jaw.Source: Supplied

Although he still can’t eat solid food or anything that isn’t actually from a straw, the 27-year-old couldn’t help but smile at the sight of his belt on Wednesday afternoon.

Opetaia made his first major purchase as world champion earlier in the day when he ticked off another of his childhood dreams.

“I love my fishing on the side,” he said.

“The world title was one of my childhood dreams, and having my own fishing boat was something I always wanted since childhood.

“I have to buy my own fishing boat.”

Opetaia is still well and truly on the road to recovery, but he’s still aiming for more size when he returns to the ring.

The Australian said “a unification is definitely on the table” as he looks to win more belts in the cruiserweight division.

Ferdinand Medina

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