Mairis Briedis and Gilberto ‘Zurdo’ Ramirez are both on course to challenge for a cruiserweight title.

Just no longer versus each other. has confirmed that the IBF has canceled a purse bid hearing previously scheduled for Tuesday to have determined promotional rights for the ordered vacant cruiserweight title fight. The session was removed after the IBF received confirmation of Ramirez’s withdrawal from the process through Golden Boy Promotions.

As previously reported by Boxing Scene, Mexico’s Ramirez (45-1, 30KOs) will instead challenge WBA cruiserweight titleholder Arsen Goulamirian (27-0, 18KOs). The bout is due to take place in March; Boxing Scene has learned that March 30 is the working date for the recently agreed-upon title fight.

In a strange twist of fate, the development leaves Latvia’s Briedis (28-2, 20KOs) back on course for a rematch with lineal champion Jai Opetaia (24-0, 19KOs). A deal is not yet finalized, though all signs point to their bout taking place as the chief support to the February 17 Tyson Fury-Oleksandr Usyk undisputed heavyweight championship in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.

The IBF has yet to confirm that its belt will be at stake for the Opetaia-Brieidis rematch, though very likely the end result.

The title became available when Sydney’s Opetaia opted to move forward with his December 23 bout versus unbeaten but unranked Ellis Zorro in lieu of a mandatory title defense. Opetaia (24-0, 19KOs) was previously ordered to face Briedis (28-2, 20KOs) in what would have been a rematch to their July 2022 thriller, won by Opetaia via unanimous decision to claim the IBF title.

Brieidis has not fought since that night, but managed to elevate to the mandatory position after Mateusz Masternak and Richard Riakporhe were demoted for failure to proceed with title fights versus Opetaia. The former three-time cruiserweight champion has also now seen back-to-back purse bids fall through at the eleventh-hour.

Meanwhile, Opetaia will now defend his lineal championship for the third time in less than five months.

The hectic run comes after he was forced to sit out much of 2023 due to injuries, recovery and watching two ordered fights fall through. The unbeaten 28-year-old Australian southpaw returned last September 30 with a one-sided, fourth-round knockout of England’s Jordan Thompson followed by a one-round demolition of Zorro.

Briedis’ team requested an immediate purse bid hearing in lieu of a negotiation period with Ramirez, shortly after both parties were contacted on December 20 to enter talks.

That part becomes moot as both now have a shot at holding separate pieces of the cruiserweight crown.

Mexico’s Ramirez (45-1, 30KOs) bids to become a two-division titlist as he enters just his second cruiserweight fight. His ten-round win over former WBO light heavyweight titlist Joe Smith Jr. last October came at a contracted 193-pound weight limit, but was enough move into title contention.

Ramirez previously held the WBO super middleweight title from April 2016 through his December 2018 repeat win over Jesse Hart, after which point he campaigned at light heavyweight. Five wins followed as he advanced to the top of the WBA light heavyweight rankings. He suffered a lopsided defeat to defending WBA titlist Dmitry Bivol in November 2022, and has fought just once since then in the win over Smith.

Briedis will attempt to become a four-time cruiserweight titlist and avenge one of two career defeats.

He won his first belt in an April 2017 unanimous decision over Marco Huck to claim the vacant WBC title. Just one successful defense followed before he lost to Oleksandr Usyk in the semifinal round of the World Boxing Super Series season one cruiserweight tournament.

Briedis returned to the series for season two, which he won outright. He claimed the WBO cruiserweight title along the way in a controversial third-round knockout of Krzysztof Glowacki.

Their June 2019 WBSS semifinal was presented to the WBO in a protest filed by Glowacki, who successfully lobbied for an immediately ordered rematch. Briedis instead relinquished his belt given his contracted commitment to the tournament, which he won along with the IBF belt in a September 2020 decision victory over Yuniel Dorticos. His third reign ended with the defeat to Opetaia. 

Jake Donovan is a senior writer for X (formerly Twitter): @JakeNDaBox