Jai Opetaia, regarded as the best cruiserweight in the weight class, made another big statement on Saturday in Saudi Arabia, when he blew away unbeaten contender Ellis Zorro with a brutal one-punch knockout in the first round.
The bout was part of the big ‘Day of Reckoning’ card that was headlined by Anthony Joshua’s stoppage of Otto Wallin.
In the lead-up, the 28-year-old Opetaia was stripped of the IBF cruiserweight crown for moving forward with the bout against Zorro.
At the heart of the issue, was an outstanding IBF order for Opetaia to make a mandatory defense against Mairis Briedis. The sanctioning body allowed Opetaia to make a voluntary defense against Jordan Thompson a few months ago. They refused to allow another voluntary defense.
Briedis, who is currently injured and hasn’t fought since he was beaten by Opetaia in July 2022, gave Opetaia permission to fight Zorro first – but the sanctioning body refuse to budge on the matter.
For Opetaia, the bout with Zorro was part of a much larger multi-fight agreement with the Saudis – and his next fight will take place on Saudi soil.
“His next fight will be in Saudi that’s for sure,” Opetaia’s manager, Matt Clarke, told Daily Mail.
“Jai further stamped himself as the best Cruiserweight in the world,” he added. “Zorro was undefeated heading into the fight and for Jai to dispatch him in under a round just emphasizes his ability. The sky truly is the limit for Jai Opetaia. He is easily Australia’s most talented boxer.”
One has to wonder if Opetaia will be part of the undercard to Tyson Fury’s undisputed heavyweight clash with Oleksandr Usyk, which takes place on February 17 in Saudi Arabia.