Aussie’s ‘ruthless’ KO sends Brit ‘into the shadow realm’

Australian boxer Jai Opetaia took less than three minutes to reinforce his claim of being the best cruiserweight in the world, knocking out Ellis Zorro in Saudi Arabia on Sunday morning (AEDT).

Opetaia – who this week was stripped of his title by the IBF for taking this fight – delivered a devastating left hook that sent Zorro to the canvas in the dying seconds of the opening round.

The International Boxing Federation (IBF) wanted Opetaia to fight Mairis Briedis, who he beat in July 2022, but the Latvian is currently out of action with injury.

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Since that fight, Opetaia has fought only once – defeating Jordan Thompson by TKO in September.

He said he took some of the frustrations of being stripped of the title out on Zorro.

“I trained for 12 rounds, but if the knockout comes, it comes,” Opetaia said.

“I’m pumped, first round knockout, I’m ready for the next fight.

“The last 18 months is all part of the journey. It’s all built to where I am now and I’m excited for the next step.

“These dudes put the people in front of me and I knock them out.”

The undefeated Sydneysider now carries a 24-0 record.

Zorro was also undefeated heading into the bout, but many suggested the fight was a mis-match. He looked completely overwhelmed in the 2min 56sec thrashing.

Zorro crashed to the canvas, the bottom ring rope thankfully stopping his head from landing heavily on the canvas.

There was some concern for the 31-year-old immediately after, but he eventually got back to his feet and was seen to by medics.

“He was very hesitant, but he was a bit too hesitant and he got clipped,” Opetaia said.

“That’s the way it goes.”

Opetaia was offered a reported $661,00 (US$450,000) to fight Zorro on the Day of Reckoning card in Riyadh.

His camp claims Briedis had pulled out of two potential rematches due to his injury, but has agreed in-principal to a date in early 2024.

The IBF told him to pull out of the Zorro fight or be stripped of his cruiserweight title, but Opetaia said the money on offer was too tempting to refuse.

Veteran English promoter Frank Warren described the IBF’s decision as “short sighted”.

Opetaia also had an appeal against the decision rejected.

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