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Jai Opetaia ready to announce himself on the world stage

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Undefeated cruiserweight prospect Jai Opetaia 18-0 (14) will face the toughest test of his career when he takes on former world title challenger Mark ‘Bam Bam’ Flanagan 24-7 (17) at the Hordern Pavilion I Sydney, Australia on Saturday night.

The bout will headline the first fight card under the new National Boxing Series.

“Flanagan’s always been at the top of the tree,” the 24-year-old Opetaia told NBN News. “When I first turned pro he was the cruiserweight that you had to beat to prove yourself to be the best in Australia.

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“I’ve been trying to get this fight for a couple of years, but he’s had a couple of world title shots in that time.”

Flanagan, 29, went 12 rounds with WBA champion Denis Lebedev in Russia two years ago and was stopped on his feet by Arsen Goulamirian in nine rounds in France in October last year.

“I’m at the age where I’m still improving so much every day,” continued Opetaia.

“These other guys, like my opponent, are sort of maintaining but I’m improving every fight. I’m excited for this fight and I reckon it will be another step up.”

The talented southpaw has recently signed on with promoter Dean Lonergan who guided Jeff Horn to world championship glory with his victory over future Hall of Famer Manny Pacquiao.

“I want to work with people who we know can win world titles, so we’re going to give Jai the platform so he’ll have numerous fights over the next 12 months,” said Lonergan.

“Jai is only about four or five fights from a world title fight and certainly would be in contention for that.

“In a perfect world, it would be nice to go to the Central Coast Stadium in Gosford.”

While Opetaia is  keen to fight for a world title, he insists he isn’t looking beyond Flanagan.

“That’s like a dream since I was a kid, to bring a world title back to my hometown,” Opetaia said.

“But I’ve got to get this job done first, I’ve got to keep working hard and then it will all happen.”

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