Trainer: I Knew Jai Opetaia Had The Skill To Outbox Mairis Briedis

Boxing Scene

Mark Wilson, the head trainer of newly crowned world champion Jai Opetaia, had no idea his boxer’s jaw was broken for at least nine rounds in Saturday’s title fight with Mairis Briedis.

Opetaia’s jaw was busted up in the second round, but Wilson didn’t realize his boxer was injured until the eleventh.

“I didn’t know it was broken until the 11th round when you can evidently see that something was really amiss with it,” Wilson admitted to Fox Sports.

“I believe we were two or three rounds up, I thought. We were starting to maybe lose a couple late. I said, ‘Just move, mate. We’ve got to move. Don’t do anything silly. Move, move.’ We got through there.”

Opetaia entered the ring as a sizable underdog, but he upset the odds by outboxing Briedis over twelve rounds to capture the IBF cruiserweight title. The official scores were 116-112, 115-113 and 116-112.

During the eleventh and twelfth rounds, the Opetaia’s injury was very evident as he seemed to be able to close his mouth.

In the aftermath of the win, the new champion was barely able to speak and is now going to have surgery to mend the injury.

After his win was announced the 27-year-old Opetaia was barely able to talk to the media and he’s now set to have surgery to repair his jaw.

Wilson always had faith that his boxer would win the title.

“In 2011, Jai and I first got together,” Wilson said. “We went to the junior world championships in Kazakhstan and he won the world title there. I said, ‘It was your destiny that us two would get back together again. You’re fighting for a world title, I knew you would win tonight.’

“I knew we could still outbox him [with the injury]. I knew Jai had the skill to outbox him. I was just worried, sometimes Jai can get a little bit flat-footed and wait too long. That’s when he got hit by that right-hand lead or that right uppercut. That was the only punch that was really doing any damage. I said, ‘Jai, we’ve got to keep moving, we’ve got to go first. We’ve got to go first and when you see him coming, disengage. Move away, let him fight short and then you get him.’”

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