‘As clinical as it gets’: Unbeaten Aussie moves to 24-0 with stunning first-round KO of hapless Englishman
Jai Opetaia has taken his frustrations out on a hapless Ellis Zorro, the unbeaten Australian delivering a brutal first-round knockout in Saudi Arabia.
The cruiserweight was forced to vacate his IBF world title belt to take his place on the mega-card in Riyadh early on Sunday morning (AEDT).
In a bout reportedly worth $680,000 to the Australian, he wasted little time, a huge left hand obliterating Zorro with four seconds remaining in the first round.
The punch sent the dazed Englishman into the ropes and on to the canvas, the outclassed Zorro eventually able to offer a sheepish smile in what was his first loss in 18 professional fights.
The former Olympian moved to 24-0 with 19 stoppages and retained his Ring Magazine belt to cap a week of drama that saw Opetaia stripped of his IBF status in controversial circumstances.
“I train for 12 rounds, was prepared for 12 and if the knockout comes, it comes,” Opetaia said.
“He was a bit too hesitant and he got clipped, that’s the way it goes.”
Commentator Sergio Mora described the one-punch knockout as “devastating and scary” while fellow pundit Mike Costello added: “At any weight, at any level that’s as clinical as it gets in this sport”.
“He dismissed Zorro with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of power,” he added.
Opetaia broke his jaw twice on the way to upsetting Mairis Briedis to win the IBF and Ring belts last year before enduring a frustrating wait to defend them 14 months later.
Multiple opponents have dodged the 28-year-old, who the IBF demanded fight Briedis next despite the injured Latvian being happy to delay their bout until he is fit early next year.
“I did, but look at this place, beautiful, I’m happy to be here,” Opetaia said when asked if he had vented his frustrations in the ring.
“I’m pumped; first round knockout, I’m ready for the next fight.
“The last 18 months is just part of the journey. I’m here in the ring now and that’s all that matters.
“These dudes (promoters) put the people in front of me and I just knock them out.”
Opetaia’s next fight could be on the Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk card in Riyadh on February 17.
Promoter Eddie Hearn said the Australian had the potential to replicate Usyk’s career and unify the cruiserweight division before moving up to the heavyweights.
“Every fight man knows,” Hearn said of the man regarded as the No.1 cruiserweight in the world.
“I believe Jai’s going to do the exact same thing (as Usyk) … we’re talking about a pound-for-pound talent,” Hearn said.
Dubbed the ‘Day of Reckoning’, the Middle East card features heavyweight stars Anthony Joshua, Deontay Wilder, Joseph Parker and light heavyweight champion Dimitri Bivol.