Jai Opetaia: 'We reached out to Mairis Briedis to fight on this card on the 23rd, he denied it

Jai Opetaia joins an ambitious line-up for Riyadh Season’s next foray into boxing. The world’s number 1 cruiserweight is due to make the second defense of his world title on December 23 in a show that has been quickly put together to replace the originally planned Tyson Fury Vs Oleksandr Usyk undisputed heavyweight title fight. 

“I heard a few rumours about a week ago, then two days ago it got locked in and I had to fly here.” Opetaia said from London in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “We landed this morning, we had a 26 hour flight to get here. We get all this done, secured the bag and we fly back tomorrow morning.”

The IBF cruiserweight world champion takes on the untested, at world level, Ellis Zorro in an ambitiously matched card rammed with high end names in the Middle East. The undefeated Londoner takes a huge leap in opposition when challenging for his first world title. The 31 year old’s biggest win came against Hosea Burton this past May, he most recently defeated Luca D’Ortenzi six weeks ago.

“I don’t know too much about him to be honest with you.” Opetaia explained. “I only got the call two days ago. That’s how boxing works these days, even with [Jordan] Thompson I had five weeks for the call up for that fight. I can’t wait for the 23rd, it's a massive platform and to be on the frontline with the class of fighters that I’m on [with], it’s crazy, I’m excited. I pretty much just work my arse off in the gym and wait for the call up, you know what I mean. Eddie Hearn, now we are with Matchroom and stuff, I just make sure when they do call, wherever it is, whoever it is, I’m ready.

“We come here to get it done, do a little face-off, get back to the gym and focus on what we need to focus on. Every camp is the same, it is just hard work everyday. Anywhere this fight goes, we will be ready.”

It had been widely expected the Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) would once again collide with former cruiserweight king Mairis Briedis. The pair produced a Fight of The Year candidate last summer, where Opetaia snatched the world title from the Latvian in a unanimous-decision win on the Gold Coast, Australia.

“We reached out to Briedis to fight on this card on the 23rd,” Opetaia added, “he denied it, I don’t know, something is wrong with him or his team. Then they just gave me another opponent, that’s it. Me at 100 percent, I can beat anyone. That is all I focus on, it’s the inspiration for all my fights. Who is it? We will worry about that when we get in the ring or when it is made. As long as I’m fit and ready, I’ll beat anyone.”