War has been forecast ahead of the vacant IBF cruiserweight title fight in Saudi Arabia between Jai Opetaia and Mairis Briedis.

They both completed their ‘grand arrivals’ at Riyadh this evening ahead of their rematch on Saturday night.

They fought in Australia in July 2022, with Opetaia winning a hard-fought battle over 12 rounds to claim the IBF title, while suffering a broken jaw in the process in a gruelling encounter.

Opetaia is now 24-0 (19 KOs) but was stripped of the title for electing to face Ellis Zorro instead of fighting Briedis, after rematch negotiations had stalled. 

Briedis has not fought since their first bout.

“I’m feeling good, ready to put on a good show,” said the Australian Opetaia, who delivered a first-round KO of Zorro in Saudi Arabia in December. “I feel like he’s going to come out swinging and we’re ready for anything he brings.

“I don’t know how it ends yet, but it ends with my hand raised. 

It’s awesome to be part of one of the biggest fight nights of this decade,” he added, referring to the heavyweight unification fight between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk. “I’m honored to be here and we’re ready to put on a good show. I’ve no doubt Briedis has prepared well, so I’m expecting a war.”

The enigmatic Latvian Briedis (28-2, 20 KOs), who arguably gave bill-topper Usyk his toughest fight in the pros, losing a majority decision for the unified cruiserweight title back in January 2018, did not have much to say, but added: “I hope all the boxing fans enjoy this fight, of course. We’re the best and we will show a very big drama.” 

Briedis said he was excited, enjoyed being in warm countries and concluded: “I think the winner will be who is stronger, like always.”

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