Nope, cruiserweight is still not a sexy division. This Jai Opetaia is trying to change that.
He calls himself “King of the Cruiserweights” and will have his best opportunity to lift his profile Saturday in that massive heavyweight-heavy card in Saudi Arabia.
The 28 year Australian hitter is six days away from his ‘Day of Reckoning' against Ellis Zorro in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia – live worldwide on DAZN PPV.
Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) is the No.1 ranked fighter and reigning Ring Magazine World Champion, after giving up the IBF crown.
That org told Team Opetaia he’d not receive the ok to defend his IBF crown Vs a sub for Mairis Briedis, who is injured. So he said gotcha, take back your belt.
The IBF sent out a release on Monday regarding this situation:
Springfield, NJ – Late last evening the IBF received notice from Michael Francis representing Jai Opetaia advising that Opetaia has decided to relinquish his title as IBF World Cruiserweight Champion.
In an email to IBF President Daryl Peoples and the IBF Board of Directors, Francis noted the team’s disappointment in having to reach this decision but acknowledged the IBF rules that affect this situation should be adhered to.
The IBF accepts Jai Opetaia’s decision to vacate the title and wishes him well.
Mairis Briedis, who is ranked #3 in the IBF Cruiserweight ratings, will be ordered to negotiate with the next leading available contender for the vacant IBF Cruiserweight World Championship bout.
“I'm looking forward to putting on a good show,” Opetaia told Matchroom Boxing.
“I cannot wait to get in the ring. It's all outside noise and it's also just fuel on the fire. It makes me want to perform even better. The thing is all roads lead to me. I am the Ring magazine World Champion, the number one in the division. I am the king of the Cruiserweights.
“We've definitely earned our spot on this card, which is the biggest in boxing history. I can’t lie, it's been a rough journey. It's been a rollercoaster to get to where we are, but we are here.”
Here means he will face off with the 31 year old Zorro, who owns a 17-0 mark, with seven KOs.
Look at his last five outings….
Yes, it looks like Opetaia will be two steps up from what he’s been dealing with.
The lefty Opetaia continued: “So, I feel like I'm the motivation to all my rivals. I'm working hard. I'm doing what I've got to. I'm focused on my own journey, and I'm not worried about them.
“I'm locked in on Ellis Zorro and I’m expecting a solid version of him. He's going to have to pick it up when he faces me. So, I'm pumped. I'm ready. I've earned my spot here – it didn't happen by accident. And we just go out and we do what we do.”
Opetaia had taken the IBF crown off Breidis in 2022, and opened eyes with his skills and toughness, battling through a broken jaw in their tango.
“We're just getting started on this journey. We've got so much more to achieve in this in this game and we're flying the Australian and Samoan flags very proudly. I’m honoured to be part of this card and a part of boxing history.”