Kalle Sauerland expects Mairis Briedis to face Gilberto Ramirez for vacant IBF cruiserweight title

Jai Opetaia has formally relinquished his IBF cruiserweight title.

The undefeated Australian faces Ellis Zorro on the Day of Reckoning card this Saturday in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. With England’s Zorro not being ranked by the IBF, the sanctioning body refused to sanction the fight. 

Former champion Mairis Briedis is next in the line for the title as stated by the IBF. The Latvian powerhouse lost his title to Opetaia in Australia last July, and it had been reported for months that the pair would have a rematch.

“Briedis will fight for the vacant title, most likely against [Gilberto] Ramirez,” Kalle Sauerland, Briedis’s promoter, said exclusively to ProBox TV. “If I am not mistaken he is next in the rankings, which is a blockbuster as well. Mairis really wanted to fight Opetaia again. If you look back at that fight, it is the tale of two cities. You have the first half where Opetaia breaks Briedis down on the back foot, breaks his nose. Then Briedis gets over his jet lag in the second half, smashing him, pulverises him from pilar to post. He carried him, if he took a step back he would have gone down for 20 not for 10. It was a fantastic fight, they left everything in that ring. I would have loved to have seen it again. In fact, a lot of people haven’t seen that fight. 

“People say Mairis is old. Well the old fella had the young fella in the second half of the fight, it wasn’t the other way around. That fight really needs to be made, whether it's for a title in the future or for whatever it is, we want to do that fight again before it is too late. But Ramirez is fantastic as well, he’s a great fighter. I have an open account with him because he beat Arthur Abraham at super middleweight three or four years ago. It was one of Arthur’s last fights. We have to get some revenge there from our team. It is Mairis who is the man to do that.”

Opetaia told ProBox TV that Briedis “was not ready” for December 23. A rematch was widely reported to be falling on the star studded card in the Middle East. 

“He is in training,” Sauerland added, “I think a lot of people are putting rumours out there that he is injured, this, that and the other. I think also because they saw a different opponent named and stuff like that, but he actually sent me a sparring video yesterday. He looks terrific, he is raring to go to get a fourth world title.”