Jai Opetaia announces arrival on world stage with TKO of Mark Flanagan

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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Hot cruiserweight prospect Jai Opetaia 19-0 (15) moved closer to a world title shot with an eighth round TKO of former world title challenger Mark ‘Bam Bam’ Flanagan 24-8 (17) at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia on Saturday night.

The 24-year-old southpaw had Flanagan on the deck once in round three and again in round seven before the Queenslander retired on his stool at the end of the eighth.

“I am on that world title level,” Opetaia said.

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Opetaia, who entered the fight ranked WBA number 12, IBF number 10 and WBO number 13, believes he is ready for the best in the division.

“Definitely. I’m a lot closer, it’s good. I came out and I made a statement,” Opetaia said.

“I went out there and I put on a good show, I dominated the fight. I showed I am a class above and I am on that world title level. I’m ready for these bigger fights.

“I’m over the moon. I’ve waited for this opportunity for a long time. He’s been at the top of the tree for a long time, so it’s good to beat him in my hometown.”

Flanagan got off to a good start, raking Opetaia’s body with hard blows in the opening round and prompting the Samoan-Australian’s corner to remind him to “get back on the jab”.

In the third round a perfectly time one-two combination collapsed Flanagan to the canvas and he never seemed to fully recover.

The seventh round saw Flanagan down again, with Opetaia opening up to display his full arsenal in the eighth.

In 2017 Flanagan travelled to Russia where he went 12 rounds against WBA 200-pound champion Denis Lebedev.

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