The highest two acknowledged targets have been each ringside for Jai Opetaia’s newest win.
Sadly, the lineal and IBF cruiserweight champion will doubtless must accept the much less fascinating choice for his subsequent outing.
Sydney’s Opetaia was emphatic in his fourth-round knockout of unbeaten although overmatched challenger Jordan Thompson and vocal in his want to unify in his subsequent battle. WBO cruiserweight titlist Chris Billam-Smith was ringside for Saturday’s DAZN important occasion from OVO Area Wembley and the goal of Opetaia’s respectful callout.
“I’ve been saying in any respect press conferences, I’ve come right here to earn respect, not disrespect,” acknowledged Opetaia after his profitable title protection. “Chris Billam-Smith, I’d like to make that battle occur. I need that WBO round my waist.”
That battle must wait, which is simply as effectively; the game’s politics doubtless wouldn’t have allowed that battle to occur anytime quickly. Opetaia is promoted regionally in Australia by Tasman Fighters and co-promoted by Matchroom Boxing, who introduced Saturday’s occasion. Billam-Smith is with UK rival promotional outlet BOXXER, whose firm has not precisely raced to do enterprise with Matchroom since its September 2021 launch.
For now, it’s a moot level.
BoxingScene.com has confirmed that Opetaia can quickly count on a letter from the IBF to enter negotiations for a compulsory title battle versus former three-time cruiserweight titlist Mairis Briedis, who was additionally ringside on Saturday.
Opetaia (23-0, 17KOs) was the IBF obligatory challenger when he dethroned Latvia’s Briedis (28-2, 20KOs) final July 2 in Broadbeach, Australia. Saturday marked the primary battle for the 28-year-old Australian southpaw since that night time; Briedis has not fought in any respect however managed to raise to the obligatory place by default.
The primary title protection for Opetaia was to have been a mandated bout versus Poland’s Mateusz Masternak, who bailed shortly earlier than a scheduled June 15 purse bid listening to. BOXXER-promoted Richard Riakporhe pulled the same disappearing act, as he was compelled to withdraw the morning of a deliberate August 8 purse bid.
Briedis doubtless received’t depart Opetaia standing on the altar. The 38-year-old Latvian is raring to turn out to be a four-time cruiserweight titlist and doesn’t have another life like choice to put arms upon a significant title. He’s promoted by Wasserman Boxing, headed by Nisse and Kalle Sauerland who’ve a superb working relationship with Eddie Hearn and the Matchroom household.
Jake Donovan is a senior author for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox