Jai Opetaia has targeted a fight with Lawrence Okolie after becoming a world champion.
The Australian, who dethroned Mairis Briedis earlier this month in what was a seismic shock, claimed the IBF crown at cruiserweight.
Opetaia was revered in the aftermath, not only for his performance but also for his bravery as he suffered a fractured jaw.
And the 27-year-old, from New South Wales, already has his next target in mind.
The southpaw (22-0, 17 KOs) also has the Ring Magazine bauble in the 200-pound division and is looking forward to potentially unifying the division in his next outing.
Okolie, the WBO champion at the weight, is on the hit list – and with rumours of the former British, Commonwealth and European champion being set to leave promotional outfit Matchroom after the completion of his current deal, which has one fight remaining, it’s a fight that could probably be made.
Opetaia said to Sky Sports in a recent video interview:
“This is a team effort.”
“I would probably like to have a unification next for the WBO and WBC – they’re belts that I’m definitely looking at, I want to fight for those belts and I want to win them as well – but when it happens, it happens.”
Ilunga Makabu is the current king at cruiserweight with the WBC and the Congolese fighter will be best known to UK fans for his defeat at the hands of Tony Bellew for the same belt back in May 2016 at Everton Football Club’s Goodison Park stadium.
His current record is 29-2 with 25 quick finishes and he was last in action in January when he made the second defence of the title against Thabiso Mchunu after winning it in a vacant capacity back in December 2020 against Olanrewaju Durodola.
Durodola has since gone on to lose to Richard Riakporhe, another British cruiserweight who has thrown his hat into the ring for a fight with Opetaia, claiming that it would be “an honour” to share a ring with him.
But it’s the aforementioned Okolie (18-0, 14 KOs) who seems to be highest in the thoughts of the division’s newest champion.
“The trust in my team is what has got me to where I am now, and the trust I have in my team is what will keep me at the top for a long time.”
“I’ve been watching [Okolie] for a long time and it’s a fight and a belt that I’ve wanted. I can’t wait to win it but we’ll fight when I say.”
“I’ve just got this IBF belt and he’s had the WBO for a long time so, when my team and I are ready and we make the decision [to make the fight], it’s on.”