Home Boxing News Jai Opetaia is coming for all the belts, but will the other...

Jai Opetaia is coming for all the belts, but will the other titleholders face him?

Jai Opetaia. Photo credit: The Sporting News

IBF and Ring Magazine cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia 25-0 (19) says he wants to collect all the hardware at 200-pounds before moving up in weight.

The 28-year-old Australian southpaw held off a late surge from former three-time world champion and number one contender Mairis Briedis 28-3 (20) in their rematch in Saudi Arabia last month to win via unanimous decision.

Opetaia has long said he wants to unify the division, but that will only be possible if the other titleholders come to the party.

So far, they have not appeared to be overly keen.

“We’re just getting started. I’ve just got here on the scene now, so we still got a lot of hard work ahead of us and I’m excited for it,” Opetaia said to Fight Hub TV.

“Definitely undisputed cruiserweight champion. We got another three belts to collect so I’m excited to do that and we’ll look at moving up, whether it’s going to go to bridgerweight or go straight to heavyweight, we’ll see when that chapter comes.

“But right now I’m chasing the rest of the cruiserweight belts.”

This Saturday night in London WBO cruiserweight titleholder Chris Billam-Smith 19-1 (13) will defend his belt against old foe Richard Riakporhe 17-0 (13), the only man to defeat him.

Gilberto Ramirez 46-1 (30), who moved up in weight to dethrone WBA cruiserweight champion Arsen Goulamirian 27-1 (19) in late March, does not currently have a fight scheduled.

Over at the WBC, their champion Noel Mikaelyan 27-2 (12) does not have a dance partner either after lifting the green belt from Ilunga Junior Makabu 29-4 (25) in November.

If fights against the other titleholders cannot be made, Opetaia will look at emulating former undisputed cruiserweight champion and current undisputed heavyweight champion Oleksandr Usyk 22-0 (14) by jumping up to compete in the open weight class.

“The ultimate goal [is to win a heavyweight title], yeah, but my ultimate goal is just being able to sit back in a house and take care of my family, everyone’s comfortable and they don’t have to stress anymore. That’s the ultimate goal,” Opetaia said.

“I would love to fight Usyk, respectfully. I’ve always been so close to him. I was 16 I qualified for the Olympics, I competed at 17, little kid, and he won that Olympic games. Like I’ve always been there, it just wasn’t my time yet.

“But I feel like my time’s coming and one day I will be able to face him, but we’ll see what happens.”

Whoever Opetaia faces next will likely come down to boxing kingmaker Turki Alalshikh, chairman of the General Entertainment Authority of Saudi Arabia.

Alalshikh has emerged as the dominant force in world boxing in the past year, bringing together rival promoters and offering the sort of big money that fighters don’t often refuse.

If the titleholders at cruiserweight can’t be convinced to step into the ring against Opetaia even with a hefty pay cheque attached, Alalshikh is more than capable of making big fights for Opetaia at heavyweight.

Expect Opetaia to return to the ring on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s next fight at Wembley Stadium in London, England on September 21.