What is The Ring Magazine belt? Jai Opetaia defends iconic boxing title before Joshua and Wilder fights

When Jai Opetaia and Ellis Zorro meet in a cruiserweight boxing match at the Kingdom Arena in Riyadh on Saturday, they will compete for the Australian’s Ring title.

The belt used to be owned by Oleksandr Usyk before the current heavyweight champion stepped up in weight in 2019.

Usyk subsequently won the heavyweight version of the belt, beating Anthony Joshua — one of the fighters who will headline in Saudi Arabia, fighting Otto Wallin — to secure that vacant strap in August 2022.

What will Opetaia or Zorro achieve by claiming the belt? Which fighters have held it in boxing history? The Sporting News takes a look.

What is The Ring title?

The Ring Magazine title denotes the man deemed to be the lineal champion by the American boxing publication that belt is named after.

Fans and commentators have long criticised the number of titles available in boxing. Nathaniel Fleischer, the editor and co-founder of The Ring Magazine, attempted to end the confusion by identifying the real champion for much of the 20th century through monthly rankings and belts.

The Ring introduced policy changes during the 1990s and in 2012. The alterations meant the title had less to do with lineage, as well as allowing leading contenders in the rankings to challenge the No.1. The situation led to more debate and controversy, but the belt still exists and is widely respected today.

Jai Opetaia - Ellis Zorro

(Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)

When did Jai Opetaia win The Ring title?

Opetaia won in his homeland to take the title in July 2022, beating predecessor Mairis Briedis by unanimous decision and making a successful defence in his next bout against Jordan Thompson at Wembley Arena in September 2023.

Latvian Briedis beat Yuniel Dorticos to become champion in September 2020, retaining the title 11 months later against Artur Mann.

Biedis also lost his IBF belt to Opetaia, and that sanctioning body this week refused to grant the champion a second exemption from facing their mandatory challenger in order to fight Zorro.

MORE: Jai Opetaia opens up on IBF ruling, discusses Holyfield vs Usyk fantasy fight and his future

The situation is curious because Briedis, who they required Opetaia to fight, is injured. He has also reached an agreement in principle to fight Opetaia early in 2024.

All of which meant Opetaia vacated the IBF title during fight week of his bout with Zorro. “It sucks that this has happened,” he told The Ring. “The IBF pretty much forced it, but it is what it is.

“We are fighting on December 23 and that’s got my full focus at the moment. I still believe I’m the best in the division, whether I have the IBF belt or not. I am still The Ring champion and I’m very proud to hold that belt.”

Jai Opetaia

(Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing)

Which champions will Jai Opetaia or Ellis Zorro follow?

The inaugural holder of the title at cruiserweight was Puerto Rican Carlos de Leon in 1984, who was champion from 1984 until 1985 and 1986 until 1987, giving him a record four defences during those reigns.

Yoan Pablo Hernandez’s three defences are the second-most, although the Cuban-German was stripped because of inactivity in November 2015, having been champion for almost four years.

The man Hernandez succeeded, Tomasz Adamek, is the only other fighter to have made more than one defence at cruiserweight, vacating in order to keep campaigning at heavyweight.

David Haye won the title in 2007 by beating Jean-Marc Mormeck and defended it by knocking out Enzo Maccarinelli the following year.

MORE: How Jai Opetaia’s sacrifices have led him to Saudi ‘Day Of Reckoning’ card

Saturday’s ‘Day of Reckoning’ event is dominated by heavyweights and the list of fighters to have held the title in that division is quite the pugilistic hall of fame.

From early champions such as Jack Johnson and Rocky Marciano to later greats including Muhammad Ali and Mike Tyson, iconic athletes have been considered lineal champions.

There have been other complications along the way: Ali suffered a rare stripping when he had his boxing license revoked, and fighters such as Lennox Lewis could be considered to have interrupted the chain by retiring as champions.

Then there are the holders whose reigns were fleeting but no less worthy, including James “Buster” Douglas – the unheralded challenger who became undisputed champion for less than nine months by stunning Tyson in 1990.

MORE: Jai Opetaia on the cusp of global boxing fame ahead of Day of Reckoning

Usyk’s predecessor, Tyson Fury, joined his father, John, to frequently and persuasively set out the reasons why they proudly believed that the towering Mancunian was rightfully a lineal champion as a result of his points win over Wladimir Klitschko, who made 11 defences, in Dusseldorf in 2015.

Their view is not without counter-arguments from fellow boxing obsessives. Some interpret the word lineal to mean an unbroken streak of defences in this context. Fury’s path has been far more complicated than that, including almost three years away from the sport after he beat Klitschko.

When is Day of Reckoning: Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin? 

The card begins at 11 a.m. ET on December 23. Here’s how that translates to different timezones globally: 

Region Date Main Card Start Time Main Event Ring Walks (approx.)
USA and Canada (ET) Saturday, December 23 11 a.m. ET 5:30 p.m. ET
USA and Canada (PT) Saturday, December 23 8 a.m. PT 2:30 p.m. PT
UK and Ireland Saturday, December 23 4 p.m. GMT 10:30 p.m. GMT
Australia Sunday, December 24 3 a.m. AEDT

9:30 a.m. AEDT

WATCH: Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin, live on DAZN

How to watch Day of Reckoning: TV channel, live stream

Jai Opetaia vs Ellis Zorro is live on DAZN PPV around the world. 

Now available as a Sky channel, DAZN 1 HD is exclusive to Sky in the UK.

Day of Reckoning: Anthony Joshua vs. Otto Wallin PPV price: How much does the fight cost? 

The PPV price for Day of Reckoning on DAZN varies per region. See the table below for your specific region:

For a limited time, get your first month of DAZN for just $0.01 when you buy a Pay Per View event with your monthly plan.

Region Monthly Subscription  Annual Subscription PPV Price
USA $19.99 on a 12-month contract or $24.99 month-to-month $224.99 $39.99
Canada $24.99 per month $199.99 $39.99
UK and Ireland £9.99 on a 12-month contract or £19.99 month-to-month £99.99 £19.99
Australia 13.99 AUD 139.99 AUD 24.99 AUD

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