Jai Opetaia set to earn $680,000 in next fight with Ellis Zorro
Unbeaten Aussie Jai Opetaia (23-0, 18KO) is reportedly agreeing a deal to fight twice in Saudi Arabia, during their Riyadh Season, in December (against Ellis Zorro) and March too, in what will produce a career-best pay day of $680,000, which equates to over £500,000.
The IBF cruiserweight champion first meets South Lounder Zorro on December 23 on the bumper 'Day of Reckoning' card, co-headlined by Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin and Deontay Wilder vs Joseph Parker.
The International Boxing Federation ideally wanted their 200lbs champion to fight thier mandatory challenger, Mairis Briedis, but promoter Eddie Hearn has declared he isn't ready for the Christmas card.
The IBF then warned Hearn, “We've made it clear to Jai's team that he cannot fight Ellis Zorro for the title.
“We had already given Jai an exemption to fight Jordan Thompson in his last fight. So he can’t get another exemption to fight Zorro, who has no world ranking.
“In our rules, it can’t be done. He can’t have back-to-back exemptions. If we break the rules for Jai, it opens the floodgates for everyone else.
“The IBF has notified Jai’s team that he cannot fight Zorro. We’ve said his next fight has to be his mandatory against Briedis.
“If Jai Opetaia goes ahead and fights Zorro, he will be stripped of his IBF world title.”
Matchroom money-maker, Hearn, responded, “I think belts matter. To be a world champion holds value, no question. But it would be best if you didn’t let it disrupt and distract your career.
“For Jai, those two fights could finally secure his and his children’s futures. You’ll let a belt, a governing body, and a committee stop you from doing that?
“We should all abide by rules, but if rules are inconsistent or unfair, you have to stand up against them.”
The 28-year-old Australian, who is also the Ring Magazine champion, added, “There’s a big part of me that’s so grateful to be part of this card, but I’ve earned my spot here.
“On December 23, I will show why I’m the best cruiserweight in the world and the king of the division.
“It doesn’t matter who is put in front of me. I have to beat them. I have a new mission, so let’s get it done. I’m ready. This is what I do.”
Opetaia’s clash with Zorro was one of just two world title fights on the bumber bill. Dmitry Bivol vs Lyndon Arthur remains the only championship clash left.
BBN Editor, Tim Rickson, shared his thoughts, “The IBF are very strict on their rules; too strict in a lot of people's opinions, especially after stripping Terence Crawford very recently because he has a rematch clause with Errol Spence when the IBF don't recognise rematches. So, again, I believe they are being overly strict here.
“If the mandatory challenger isn't ready until next year, then I cannot fathom why anyone would want to deny a world champion an interim fight, where he will remain active and earn money for his family. They have already stated that non-ranking cruiserweight Ellis Zorro cannot fight for their world title, which I fully respect, so why can't they fight anyway without the title? It makes no sense to me why they wouldn't wish for their world champion to secure a payday and a bt of activity, which will make for a better fighter when the mandatory fight can be made.”
Article sponsored by HÖRFA