Opetaia is the former IBF Cruiserweight Champion, a belt he acquired after beating Briedis in their first fight via a unanimous decision. Opetaia had one successful defense after beating Jordan Thompson. Under the IBF rules, the Australian was required to defend against his mandatory, Briedis.
Opetaia chose to take a lucrative fight on the ‘Day of Reckoning’ card in Saudi Arabia against Ellis Zorro instead. It was a chance to showcase his skills to a much bigger audience. Briedis agreed to let Opetaia proceed as he was recovering from an injury, but the IBF still stripped the Australian, much to his dismay.
“They’ve [IBF] really left me with no choice. This is a massive card that I can’t say no to, so they’ve stripped me. It is what it is,” Opetaia said
Opetaia silenced his critics by stopping Zorro in the first round to solidify the narrative that he is the number one ranked cruiserweight in the world. He will defend his Ring Magazine belt against Briedis while the vacant IBF title will also be on the line. The organization ordered Briedis to face Gilberto Ramirez. The purse bid was cancelled on January 16, 2024, after Ramirez withdrew from negotiations. Now, Opetaia can reclaim the belt he felt unjustly deprived of.
This should be an interesting challenge for Jai after having easy work in his recent 2 bouts. I'd like to see him take on Riakhpore.
— DogWhispering.co.uk (@dogwhispering8) January 16, 2024
Is it for the ibf? Ooetaia can become 2 time IBF champion without losing the title and without anyone else fighting for it. Must be some kind of record.
— Stacy Smith (@smithy7773) January 16, 2024
Briedis gets stopped and placed into the retirement community this time around.
— Scott Morley (@Looper148) January 16, 2024