By Shaun Brown
A REMATCH between Jai Opetaia and Mairis Briedis has been described as a “possibility” for December 23.
That date has become a topic of interest in boxing of late, ever since fights between Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk and Chris Eubank Jr and Conor Benn were rumoured to be taking place then. Neither of those materialised, however, and are instead now being discussed for early 2024.
Still, boxing fans appear set to receive an early gift in the shape of a card in Saudi Arabia featuring Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder, who will compete in separate bouts. An announcement on that show could come this week, with a cruiserweight cracker between Opetaia and Briedis potentially on the undercard.
In recent days the Australian has been linked with fights against Richard Riakporhe and Sergey Kovalev, but a credible source with direct knowledge of current developments told Boxing News, “Jai is possibly fighting on that card but not against any of those guys.
“Probably Briedis,” they added when asked who may be next.
Opetaia, the IBF cruiserweight belt-holder, put 14 months of inactivity behind him with an electrifying display against Jordan Thompson in London on September 30. The fourth-round stoppage win showed the type of speed, power and viciousness the Australian possesses.
Two months earlier, meanwhile, Briedis had been named as IBF mandatory challenger, but stepped aside to allow the Australia vs. England clash to take place on the proviso he would fight the winner.
Prior to fighting in the UK, Opetaia caused one of the upsets of 2022 by beating Briedis on points in Broadbeach, Australia. It was the Latvian’s first loss since dropping a decision in a forgotten classic against Oleksandr Usyk in January 2018. Opetaia’s win was doubly impressive having fought with a broken jaw from the second round. His life-changing victory ranked him as the number one at 200lbs but now, to keep his position, he may well have to do it all over again.
As for the rest of the December 23 Saudi show, there is every chance it could be headlined by Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin and Deontay Wilder vs. Joseph Parker. Other heavyweights such as Filip Hrgovic, Martin Bakole and Derek Chisora have also been linked with appearances on the bill, while there is talk Dmitry Bivol, who holds the WBA light-heavyweight strap, may appear as well.