Stripped Jai Opetaia ready to unleash Briedis and IBF frustrations on Ellis Zorro

Jai Opetaia takes on Ellis Zorro as a former world champion despite not losing a fight. 

The one-time IBF world champion relinquished his title in favour of a career high payday on the Day of Reckoning show in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It was expected that Opetaia would rematch Mairis Briedis, who he won the title from last year. However, the IBF announced that Briedis is now scheduled to fight for a vacant title.

“He pulled out,” Opetaia said of Briedis in an exclusive interview for ProBox TV. “He said he was unfit to fight for the second time. What am I meant to do? Sit around and fucking do nothing. It is not like I wanted to give the belt up. I’m just focused on delivering a performance on Saturday. I’m driven, I’ve been training hard and the rest is all outside noise. It is unfortunate that they have done this to me, but it is what it is. I can’t let that shit hold me back anymore, I’m just excited for the next chapter. 

“This stuff has been going on with my career for a long time. I’ve been trying to get so many fights made, I have been getting a lot of pull outs with my mandatories. They only let me have that one fight with [Jordan] Thompson and Briedis kept pulling out. That is the second time Briedis has pulled out. I’m just meant to sit around and wait, but I’m sick of it, I’m sick of sitting around and waiting. I want to get busy, especially on a big platform like this. It is just something I can’t say no to. Whatever happens, happens. I’m still focused and I’m still the best cruiserweight in the division. I’m looking forward and pushing forward. One door closes and another opens, so let's get it on.”

Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) collides with the little-known Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs) despite the anguish of having to drop his world title just six days before the fight. The Englishman defeated Luca D’Ortenzi in his last outing in October having previously knocked out Hosea Burton in May.

“We’ve been tapering down now as it is fight week, now we just get sharper and sharper the closer the fight comes,” Opetaia explained. “We’ve sussed him [Zorro] out a bit, but it is hard to go off his last fights. When people fight me, they know they better come correct. I feel like I am going to see a version that we haven’t seen before, I think I will see the best version of him. They know I train hard and they know I’m a hard fight, if that ain’t motivation for them to pull their finger out of their arse, I don’t know what is. 

“I’m 28-years-old and I’m already at the top of this division. All I need to do is do what I got to do. I just need to keep training hard, keep winning fights and the belts will start… They can’t deny me. As long as I do my best the belts have to come. Whether it’s the IBF or another belt, I just have to keep doing my job and the rest will fall into place. Anybody they put in front of me I got to beat. I would love to move it up to heavyweight to fight with the big boys and win a heavyweight title one day. With my ability I feel I am very capable of doing so, but that is further down the track. December 23 has taken my full focus. Every time they give me a target and a name, I get tunnel vision, all I am focused on is what is at the end of that tunnel.”