Paul Gallen helps train Jai Opetaia, Mairis Briedis, Justis Huni, video, highlights

Paul Gallen helped put Justis Huni on the map.

Now the former NRL champion has been brought in to help Jai Opetaia win a world title.

Opetaia (21-0) has brought in Gallen to fine-tune his preparation ahead of his world title fight against Mairis Briedis on May 11, who will headline alongside Huni who will make his return to boxing when he faces Kiki Lutele (7-1-2).

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IBF heavyweight champion Mairis Briedis is set to defend his world title against Jai Opetaia in Australia.Source: Instagram

The former State of Origin winning captain, who lost to Huni last year in an epic 10-round TKO in Sydney, will fly to the Gold Coast on Thursday for a six-round sparring session against Opetaia.

“We will do six rounds tomorrow,” Gallen confirmed to foxsports.com.au.

“I know how hard Jai trains, so we’ll probably do some sack work after this. But six rounds.

“We’ll probably do another one and maybe in Sydney as well.”

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With Gallen in the twilight of his professional boxing career, the former NRL tough man will be the perfect sparring partner for Opetaia.

At 40, Gallen won’t have the speed of Opetaia, but he’s as tough as a German tank.

His Latvian opponent Briedis, who currently holds the IBF and The Ring belts, having previously held the WBC and WBO titles, is 37.

During his bizarre video announcement last month, which included comments about snakes and spiders, Briedis said he felt more like a fit and virtuous “25-year-old” than the 37-year-old veteran than it is now.

Briedis was scheduled to face Opetaia on April 6, but the fight was postponed after testing positive for COVID-19.

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Jai Opetaia and undercard heavyweight fighter Justis Huni will fight on May 11. Photo: Glenn HampsonSource: News Corp Australia

Highly experienced, Briedis holds a 29-1 record, with his only loss to current heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk in 2018.

That’s why facing a battle-hardened Gallen, who talks and, above all, can handle a beating, is a big step for Opetaia, who said last month he wanted to “beat this guy and take his belts”. and use it as a “springboard” to launch his career.

“He (promoter Dean Lonergan) thought the guy Jai is fighting Mairis Briedis with is a bit older, obviously I’m a bit older, that’s not the only reason, but it’s an opportunity to help I have,” Gallen said.

“I’ve known Jai since he was about 16. I know his dad, he’s helped me over the years and I’ve always been a fan of Jai, and I’m happy to help him and have a session with him and a bit of promotion while I’m at it.

Gallen first met Opetaia at the age of 16 when he joined the Australian Kangaroo Camp to help with training.

Paul Gallen after being knocked down by his opponent Justis Huni in their Australian heavyweight title fight held at the ICC in Sydney. Photo: Richard DobsonSource: News Corp Australia

He says one thing stood out about Opetaia that he didn’t feel until he faced Huni last year.

“The only thing I remember about Justis is how quick he was,” Gallen said.

“I mean, I’ve fought most guys in Australia, but I haven’t experienced the speed of a guy that’s 6ft 4in and the best part of 110kg.

“His speed was unbelievable and I guess thinking back to when I fought Jai many years ago, his speed and how fast he was something really obvious again.

“Obviously it’s been a while since I fought Jai, but he’s gotten stronger and stronger and I watch all his fights and he’s getting better with age.

“He has more experience than Justis, so it’s probably a tougher prospect.”

Jai Opetaia punches Ben Kelleher during their Cruiserweight fight at Fortitude Music Hall on October 22, 2020 in Brisbane. Photo: Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Gallen won’t be paid a dime for “returning the favor” to Opetaia.

He does it because he wants to see the Central Coast product win the first world title on Australian soil since Jeff Horn beat Manny Pacquiao and Gary Corcoran in Brisbane in 2017.

Gallen says the blockbuster fight card can continue boxing’s resurgence in Australia.

“It’s huge for him and Australian boxing,” Gallen said.

“Australian boxing has taken a real turn over the last year or two; we saw (George) Kambosos last year and hopefully we can see Jai do it.

“Australia should back and support him.

“I’ve known this guy since he was 16 and he did it the hard way. He doesn’t have big promoters behind him and didn’t have big contemporaries like when Danny Green and Anthony Mundine fought, so he did it the hard way to get where he is today.

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