- Aussie will take on undefeated Brit Ellis Zorro on December 23
- IBF has warned they will take his belt if he fights
- The body wants a re-match against Latvia’s Mairis Briedis instead
Australian boxing world champion Jai Opetaia is on the verge of losing his IBF cruiserweight title due to his decision to participate in a lucrative event in Saudi Arabia.
Opetaia, boasting an impressive record of 23-0 with 18 KOs, has opted for a $680,000 payday.
The Australian pugilist will be stepping into the ring against England’s undefeated Ellis Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs) on December 23rd as part of a star-studded card featuring the likes of Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker, and Daniel Dubois.
The Aussie boxer, who won the IBF title against Mairis Briedis of Latvia last year on the Gold Coast, even while contending with a broken jaw, is now drawing flak from the IBF.
The federation insists that Opetaia’s next bout should be a mandatory title defence against Briedis again. This comes as Opetaia would need another exemption, having just recently squared off against Briton Jordan Thompson in October.
Australian boxing world champion Jai Opetaia could be stripped of his world title
The IBF has said that Opetaia’s next bout should be a mandatory title defence against Briedis
‘We’ve made it clear to Jai’s team that he cannot fight Ellis Zorro for the title,’ the IBF said through a spokesperson.
‘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 does not have a 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 have notified Jai’s team that he cannot fight Zorro — we’ve said his next fight has to be a mandatory against Briedis.
‘If Jai Opetaia goes ahead and fights Zorro, he will be stripped of his IBF world title.’
The Aussie fighter is amongst the nation’s best pound for pound boxers and has signed a lucrative deal to fight in Saudi Arabie
Opetaia is currently scheduled to take on Britain’s undefeated Ellis Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs)
Opetaia’s manager Mick Francis told News Corp that Briedis had no objections to Opetaia facing English boxer Ellis Zorro first.
However, the International Boxing Federation (IBF) insists on a rematch between Opetaia and Briedis as the Aussie’s next bout.
The controversy emerges amidst reports of a lucrative three-fight deal presented by the Saudis to Opetaia, which is said to be worth over $2million.
‘The IBF are brutal,’ Aussie IBF bantamweight world champion Ebanie Bridges said in response.