Jai Opetaia scores a Knockout of the Year contender to flatten Ellis Zorro in one

It is fair to say that Australian star Jai Opetaia was less than thrilled about losing the IBF cruiserweight title for boxing on this show.

The no-nonsense former champion admitted he took those frustrations out on previously-unbeaten but overmatched Ellis Zorro, landing one of the biggest sweeping left hands of the year to put Zorro down and out, sending his eyes into orbit as Zorro’s head nestled on the bottom rope. 

That was always the risk, with Zorro jumping up so many levels to challenge the fearsome Aussie. 

The IBF had wanted Opetaia to fight Mairis Briedis again, whom Opetaia won the title from, but the fight couldn’t get over the line, with Briedis injured and then when a deal couldn’t be struck.

It was a massive leap in class for Zorro, whose best win was a thunderous stoppage of a past-his-best Hosea Burton and Opetaia was on a completely different level.  

South London’s Zorro lost for the first time, against 17 wins (with seven stoppages). Opetaia is now 24-0 (18 KOs). It was a ferocious knockout and took just 2-56 of the first round to land. This was the third fight on the huge Day of Reckoning bill in Riyadh. 

In the process, Opetaia defeated his second Brit in three months, having beaten Jordan Thompson in England in October.

“I trained for 12 rounds, I was prepared for 12 rounds, and if the knockout comes it comes,” said Opetaia.

“He [Zorro] was very hesitant, he wasn’t engaging much, but he was a bit too hesitant and he got clipped. I’m pumped. First round knockout… I’m ready for the next fight.”

Promoter Eddie Hearn said he wants The Ring champion, Opetaia, to unify at cruiserweight and that he would likely return, in Saudi Arabia, in the first quarter of 2024.