RIYADH, Dec. 20 – The IBF may no longer recognize Jai Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) as their cruiserweight champion, but that has done little to impact his focus for his upcoming clash.
The Sydney native takes on Englishman Ellis Zorro (17-0, 7 KOs) in a 12-round bout that will be part of the December 23 historic fight card at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. This marks the second boxing event of this year’s Riyadh Season, a state-funded entertainment and sports festival. The first saw Tyson Fury barely make it past Francis Ngannou.
Both Opetaia and Zorro were present at the grand arrivals that took place on December 19. Big Fight Weekend was able to get comments from both fighters.
Jai Opetaia Provides His Thoughts on IBF Ruling
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Jai Opetaia Ready to Fight
“We were going back and forth with it for quite a while,” said Opetaia to Big Fight Weekend. “I was sort of prepared for it, but, it is what it is. This is a massive card. This is a massive opportunity. I’m not going to throw this away. We’re here now, and we’re focused on Saturday. That’s it.“
“It [the clash with Zorro] is no different to any other fight I’ve chosen. I treat this like a world title fight. I’ve trained extremely hard. I’m prepared for 12 rounds of war.”
Ellis Zorro Focused On Upcoming Bout
“Literally, four days before the press conference [to announce “Day of Reckoning“], I got a call from my manager,” said Zorro to Big Fight Weekend. “He said ‘this is a fight that has been offered to us. Do you want to take it?’ I said ‘where, how much?’ He told me ‘Saudi.’ He told me how much and I said ‘yeah! Let’s go!‘”
“Just in a nutshell, it’s my first southpaw,” he said about preparing for Opetaia. “It’s the first raw opponent that I look at, and I’m like ‘yeah, he’s undefeated, there’s no blueprint in beating him,’ if I’m being honest. He’s a great fighter, someone who I was watching kinda as a fan…It’s [training camp] just been different in my mentality. I’m slightly more focused than my other past fights.“
Between the two, Opetaia is the more experienced professional and has greater success in getting knockouts. While the Australian has a 78 per cent KO percentage, that figure is 41 per cent for Zorro. This gap in knockout power should make the difference in the end.
Opetaia has had more fights scheduled for 10 or 12 rounds than Zorro, who only has two. The former cruiserweight champion’s past training camps for these distances should help him overcome any challenge Zorro puts forth. Although the Englishman will do his level best to come out on top, it is hard to see him avoid a stoppage loss by the middle rounds against Opetaia.
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