Opetaia returns on Feb 17 on Fury-Usyk card, training alongside Fury

Former IBF cruiserweight world champion and current Ring titleholder Jai Opetaia will box on the undercard to the undisputed heavyweight world title clash between Oleksandr Usyk and Tyson Fury on February 17 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

Opetaia, 24-0, 19KOs, swiftly returns to action in Riyadh for the second time in less than two months following his appearance on December 23, when he violently knocked out the previously unbeaten Ellis Zorro inside one round as part of the supporting cast to Anthony Joshua’s fifth-round victory over Otto Wallin.

Before his contest with Zorro, Opetaia relinquished his IBF world cruiserweight title following the IBF’s refusal to sanction the Australian a voluntary defence against Zorro. Opetaia made the first defence of his IBF crown against Jordan Thompson in September, despite winning the IBF title against Mairis Briedis in July 2022 in a Fight of the Year contender.

Opetaia had his jaw broken by Briedis and was forced to sit on the sidelines and recover for 14 months prior to his maiden defence against Thompson.

Briedis, 28-2, 20KOs, was Opetaia’s mandatory challenger for the IBF crown, and despite Briedis not objecting to Opetaia’s request to face Zorro the IBF disagreed and enforced their mandatory ruling so Opetaia gave up his IBF crown.

Briedis will contest the vacant IBF title against former WBO super-middleweight world champion Gilberto Ramirez, who is promoted by Golden Boy Promotions.

An opponent has yet to be confirmed or reported as to who Opetaia will face in the opposing corner in Riyadh.

Furthermore, however, BoxingScene confirmed that Opetaia will be training alongside WBC heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury, contesting the first undisputed heavyweight title fight to take place for 25 years. Opetaia has been recruited by Fury to act as a sparring partner, believing the Australian’s height and stature are comparable to Fury’s Ukrainian foe, who will stand in the opposing corner on February 17.

Usyk, meanwhile, is preparing in Valencia, Spain, and the winner of the Usyk-Fury will become the first heavyweight undisputed champion since Lennox Lewis.