The Roar
The Roar


Unbeaten Aussie moves to 24-0 with stunning first round KO as Kiwi Parker upsets Wilder

Autoplay in... 6 (Cancel)
Up Next No more videos! Playlist is empty -
23rd December, 2023

Jai Opetaia has taken his frustrations out on a hapless Ellis Zorro, the unbeaten Australian delivering a brutal first-round knockout in Saudi Arabia, while Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker stunned former champ Deontay Wilder to ruin his chances of facing Anthony Joshua.

Cruiserweight Opetaia 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.

Jai Opetaia knocks out Ellis Zorro.

Jai Opetaia knocks out Ellis Zorro. (Photo by Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing via Getty Images).

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 Joshua, Wilder, Parker and light heavyweight champion Dimitri Bivol.

Parker’s victory over Wilder came before Joshua stopped Otto Wallin with a fifth-round TKO in a heavyweight double-header.


The bouts at Kingdom Arena in Riyadh were expected to set up a March bout between Wilder and Joshua.

Instead, it appears Parker is in a position to step up in March, with the winner of that fight hoping to get a shot at the undisputed championship, which will be decided on February 17 when Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk meet in Saudi Arabia.

The heavyweight division hasn’t been unified this century.

The 31-year-old Parker, a big underdog according to FanDuel Sportsbook, looked the better fighter throughout, while the 38-year-old Wilder looked his age in a match-up of former heavyweight champions.

Parker (34-3-0) dominated from the start, landing powerful punches with his right hand while keeping Wilder on his heels with a smart and methodical approach.

“Dangerous fight, tough fight, we trained very hard for this,” Parker said. 

“We had great momentum coming into this fight. The strategy was to stay calm, stay relaxed, stay focused … every minute of every round. This is a great finish to the year.”


There was only one round in which Wilder got the better of Parker.

“My timing was off a little bit,” Wilder said. 

“He did a great job of avoiding a lot of my punches. I did feel like I had the upper hand, but things happen. We move on to the next step.”

In the main event, Wallin’s corner called for the stoppage at the end of the fifth round.

Joshua, a strong favourite, needed more than just a victory to convince sceptics his best days weren’t behind him. 

The British boxer earned some style points against the 33-year-old Wallin, who is from Sweden.

Joshua (27-3-0) hadn’t looked the same since holding the WBA, IBF and WBO titles. But the 34-year-old delivered a throwback performance, jabbing and moving forward with confidence while backing down Wallin (26-2-0).


 A strong right-left combination in the fifth round eventually led to the stoppage.

“Just another fight. I respect Otto,” Joshua said.

 “Not so much a throwback, just another day in the office. I’m just a gifted fighter that has a special gift and I use it to the best of my ability.

“We just want to do whatever it takes to be victorious. All I want to be is just be victorious for as long as I can. I’m searching for greatness.”

Earlier, Dmitrii Bivol defeated Lyndon Arthur in a unanimous decision that saw all three judges score it a 12-round sweep for the IBO light heavyweight and WBA super light heavyweight belts.

The early card also included five knockouts.

After Opetaia, Daniel Dubois (20-2-0) registered a 10th-round TKO of Jarrell Miller (26-1-1) with eight seconds left in the final round.


Agit Kabayel (24-0-0) scored a fourth-round TKO of Arslanbek Makhmudov (18-1-0) in a scheduled 10-round heavyweight bout.

Filip Hrgovic (17-0-0) stopped Mark De Mori (41-3-2) with a first-round TKO, and Frank Sanchez (24-0-0) opened the night with a seventh-round knockout of Junior Fa (20-3-0).