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Opetaia Relinquishes IBF Cruiserweight Title, Sets Sights On Zorro Bout

Jai Opetaia renounces his title to face Ellis Zorro, aiming to defend his Ring Magazine championship

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia — Jai Opetaia will battle Ellis Zorro on a stacked card including Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder in different bouts, on Saturday, December 23, in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, 

 

Due to an inability to come to a consensus over his eligibility for a voluntary defense, Jai Opetaia(23-0, 18 KOs) from Australia has renounced his IBF cruiserweight title. 

 

Since Mairis Briedis Opetaia’s mandatory opponent, was unable to fight on the scheduled date, Opetaia and his camp had been in talks with the IBF to allow Opetaia to mount a voluntary defense against Zorro, a 31-year old boxer from United Kingdom.

 

“I fought through absolute agony to win that belt and it saddens me to relinquish it. But the fact is, Briedis, 38, isn’t ready to fight on December 23 and I need to stay active. I simply can’t turn down a career-high payday,” said Opetaia in media reports.

 

“Belts should be won and lost in the ring and I’m still the Ring Magazine champion and all roads in the cruiserweight division go through me. I am the true king of the cruiserweight division and I’ll be defending that prestigious Ring Magazine title on December 23,” he added.

 

“I look forward to getting that IBF belt back as soon as possible and adding all of them, one by one,” he continued.

 

Opetaia, 28, said that Briedis (28-2, 20 KOs) from Latvia had consented to withdraw so that Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs) could fight.

 

“We respect the IBF’s rules which are in place to protect the boxer in the mandatory position. However, this was one extremely bizarre circumstance where the mandatory boxer was actually happy to not have it immediately enforced, as he’s injured,” said Mick Francis Opetaia’s manager.

 

“We were left with three options. Vacate, be stripped if Jai fights on December 23 or wait for Briedis. There’s an old saying that you can’t eat trophies. Jai cannot turn down the life-changing money on offer for the Zorro bout and we need the activity,” he added.

 

Opetaia’s goal of unifying the division has taken a new turn, but he will still hold the Ring title.

 

“He’s always had the dream of unifying all the titles. It will still happen, it’s just a setback,” said Francis.

“What’s the latest with Florida Man?”

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