Well, friends, next Monday is Independence Day here in the United States, which means it’s pretty much a dead weekend for boxing in the States.
But have no fear! There are international fights. Well, maybe have a bit, because mostly they’re not so great. But there is a world title fight in Australia, and we’ve got our picks for that and a couple bouts in the United Kingdom!
Scott Christ (43-21)
Briedis’ preoccupation with Jake Paul was just an enormous waste of time, and he hasn’t faced a real threat in nearly two years now, since he beat Yuniel Dorticos. Opetaia is a wild card, but not one to totally look past; he’s 10 years younger than Briedis, taller though without any notable reach advantage, and a southpaw. He also fought at the 2012 Olympics when he was still a teenager, qualifying at the age of 16, Australia’s youngest-ever Olympic boxer.
So he’s got some skills on paper, and there is footage out there, but the competition hasn’t been much. That never means everything, though; if I’ve said it a million times, I’ll say it a million more — just because a guy hasn’t fought top competition doesn’t mean he can’t succeed at that level, even in a big jump up.
Fighting at home should also give Opetaia at least some sort of edge, and I can see him getting off to a fast start with Briedis having to warm into this. Briedis isn’t, to put it kindly, always the most “beautiful” boxer to watch, and while chippiness and a rough fight may favor him, will it sway judges? Listen, I’m fully just fantasizing about what this fight might look like now, because Opetaia hasn’t been near this level and, well, I wanted to do picks this week and this is by far the most relevant fight. Gotta say something! I’ll take Briedis to clearly have won enough rounds but one judge to be on Mars. Briedis SD-12
Wil Esco (50-14)
One would naturally think that at age 37, the sand is running out of the hour glass for Mairis Briedis. I, too, believe that the end is nigh for Briedis, but I don’t think it will be coming in this particular fight against Jai Opetaia. The biggest reason for this is because Briedis is a very experienced fighter at this point, and Opetaia has largely been confined to fighting in Australia where the talent pool isn’t as deep as it is on the world stage.
Opetaia is still relatively young so I don’t think a loss here will completely ruin him, but I do think he’s going to experience the difference in levels here and expect him to struggle in a boxing match unless he’s able to just completely overwhelm Briedis. Obviously, I’m not banking on that happening, so I’m going to pick Briedis to pull it out on the cards. Briedis UD-12
John Hansen (50-14)
What a journey we’ve taken with Mairis Briedis since his World Boxing Super Series triumph. I’ll be honest and admit that I know next to nothing about Jai Opetaia. Even with this pick pending, I haven’t really felt the urge to invest time watching his body of work against bodies of warmth. If you absolutely must have the sort of analysis only I can provide, here’s what I have for you: In every out-of-the-ring photo I’ve ever seen of him, Jai Opetaia looks like he came to life when a childless police sketch artist with a lonely heart full of love made a wish on a magical shooting star.
In the book, Pinocchio gets into a fight with other boys, manages to keep them at distance and avoid damage, and emerges with what most judges would call a draw. Maybe police-sketch-Pinocchio gets a similar outcome here. Or, maybe he’s been flying under the radar and he’s got the tools to shock the best cruiserweight in the world. Weird stuff happens. Opetaia is a decade younger, and he does have 17 knockouts in 21 fights.
I’ll go with the old man, though. Briedis UD-12
Patrick Stumberg (51-13)
Between the inactivity and the baffling shenanigans both in and out of the ring, it’s rough being a fan of the cruiserweight division’s Bastard Supreme. It’s doubly frustrating because he’s essentially the last man standing from possibly the most exciting stretch in the division’s history, and he’s out here dressing up as Mario for reasons I still cannot fathom.
I still like his chances here. Opetaia’s definitely a quality operator, a strong combination puncher with the footwork and understanding of angles to give Briedis a headache, but Briedis has to be the foremost expert on fighting cruiserweight southpaws at this point. Briedis is also several leagues above Opetaia’s recent competition; it’s one thing to run circles around Benjamin Kelleher and quite another to do the same to the man who gave Oleksandr Usyk his stiffest professional test to date. So long as father time hasn’t caught up to him and he doesn’t piss off the Aussie ref, Briedis should power through a slow start to steadily hunt Opetaia down and batter him into submission. Briedis TKO-10
Joe Joyce vs Christian Hammer
- Scott: Joyce TKO-5
- Wil: Joyce TKO-5
- John: Joyce KO-4
- Patrick: Joyce TKO-7
Jason Cunningham vs Zolani Tete
- Scott: Cunningham TKO-7
- Wil: Tete UD-12
- John: Tete TKO-8
- Patrick: Tete UD-12