Jai Opetaia has been warned by a top heavyweight about the difference in power between his cruiserweight rivals and the title contenders in the sports’ glamour division.
Opetaia announced himself to the 200lb scene when he pulled off a shock win Mairis Briedis in 2022 to claim the IBF title, and his reputation and star power has grown ten-fold ever since.
The Aussie has gone on to secure back-to-back brutal knockout wins over Jordan Thompson and Ellis Zorro, but was stripped of his world title before the latter in controversial fashion.
As he emerges as a pound-for-pound contender, fans have continued to encourage the 28-year-old to follow in the footsteps of Oleksandr Usyk and make the move up to the heavyweight division.
WBO Interim heavyweight champion Zhilei Zhang has admitted that he would welcome the top cruiserweight, but told FightHype that life as a heavyweight is a completely different ball game.
“When you step up from cruiserweight to heavyweight it is not only about putting on weight, there is a lot of things behind it. I definitely would welcome him to the heavyweight family and he is going to see what heavyweight power really looks like.”
For now Opetaia appears focussed on domination at his more-natural weight, outlining his intentions of becoming the unified and eventually undisputed cruiserweight champion. Although, before he can manufacture such bouts, he must first regain his title.
Opetaia rematches Briedis on the Fury-Usyk undercard, with the now vacant IBF title on the line, but in contrast to their first encounter, it is now Opetaia who heads into the contest as a strong favourite, as he seeks to become the first man to knock the Latvian out.