Jai Opetaia’s trainer admits he failed to notice fighter’s broken jaw for NINE ROUNDS in stunning world title win – and reveals the very strange way he celebrated the victory
- Trainer Mark Wilson only realised Opetaia’s jaw was badly broken in round 11
- Fighter suffered the injury in round two, showed immense courage to continue
- It’s not the first time the ultra-tough cruiserweight has fought through pain
Jai Opetaia pulled off one of the gutsiest displays in Aussie boxing history when he overcame a broken jaw to take Mairis Breidis’s cruiserweight title on Saturday night – with his overjoyed coach Mark Wilson revealing the fighter kept the shocking injury a secret for nine agonising rounds.
Breidis literally smashed Opetaia’s face in during the second round, but it wasn’t until the 11th that Wilson realised the full extent of the hell his fighter was going through.
‘I didn’t know it was broken until the 11th round when you can evidently see that something was really amiss with it,’ he admitted to Fox Sports.
Mark Wilson (right, in tracksuit top) watches on as Opetaia struggles to speak due to his badly broken jaw just after winning the biggest fight of his life
Wilson hugs his fighter a split second after the decision was announced. The pair have worked together since 2011
‘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.’
It’s a testament to Opetaia’s incredible toughness that he was able to keep the injury hidden from Wilson for so long.
By the 11th and 12th rounds he looked unable to close his mouth due to the severity of the break and was bleeding heavily.
After his win was announced Opetaia was barely able to talk to the media and he’s now set to have surgery to repair his jaw.
It’s not the first time the new champ has fought through severe pain from broken bones.
By the last two rounds the 27-year-old’s jaw was so shattered he was bleeding profusely and seemed unable to close his mouth
Opetaia is now the IBF and The Ring magazine cruiserweight champion of the world
Earlier this year Opetaia revealed he’d fought on despite a broken left hand for seven years before finally having surgery.
‘For some fights, probably a week out I could barely fit my hand in my glove without it hurting, it was terrible,’ he said.
The 27-year-old earned a unanimous points decision – 116-112, 115-113, 116-112 – in a pulsating 12-round contest that earned him the IBF and The Ring magazine cruiserweight world titles – but Wilson didn’t celebrate in extravagant style despite dreaming of the win since the pair first started working together in 2011.
‘I’ll go and have breakfast with the family and then drive 900km,’ he revealed immediately after the fight.
‘I’ve got to go out west. This fight has been put back many times, but I’ve committed to do a guest speaker role at a junior rugby league carnival … I’m going to go back all the way to my home town of Cunnamulla.’