Home Boxing News Jai Opetaia ready to take the show on the road, calls for...

Jai Opetaia ready to take the show on the road, calls for ex-pats to support him

Jai Opetaia. Photo credit: Tasman Fighters

Ring Magazine and IBF cruiserweight champion ‘King’ Jai Opetaia 22-0 (17) is calling on Australian and Samoan ex-pats to come out and support him when he makes the inaugural defence off his world titles against Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson 15-0 (12) at OVO Arena in London, England on September 30.

Londoner Thompson, 30, will have the hometown crowd on his side, but it isn’t likely to bother Opetaia.

The 28-year-old Australian southpaw has fought outside of his homeland early on in his pro career, boxing in New Zealand, Samoa and Italy in his first nine fights. He has also travelled extensively as an amateur, competing at the Olympics and World Youth Championships in 2012 as well as the Commonwealth Games in 2014.

Opetaia defeated Latvian veteran Mairis Briedis 28-2 (20) in a thrilling unanimous decision victory in his native Australia in July of last year to claim the IBF and Ring Magazine belts but has since been hampered by injuries and a lengthy process to find his next opponent.

Now that Thompson is locked in, Opetaia is raring to go.

“I can’t wait to get back in the ring,” said the defending champion. “It’s been way too long. I hope Jordan is ready because there are levels to this sport.”

Opetaia’s co-promoter Mick Francis of Tasman Fighters believes the defending champion will have some support despite the contest taking place on the other side of the globe.

“London is full of Australian and Samoan tourists,” he said. “We are asking them to come and support the champ in what promises to be a fantastic night of boxing.”

The heavy-handed Thompson stands at a towering six-foot-seven but has never shared the ring with someone of Opetaia’s pedigree.

“He’s never been 12 rounds whereas Jai fought 12 rounds with a busted jaw against Briedis,” Francis said. “There will be a lot of questions and doubt in Thompson’s mind. He will find out that Jai Opetaia is the best cruiserweight in the world on September 30.”

For his part, IBF number five ranked contender Thompson says he will be doing more than simply making up the numbers.

“Opetaia is the recognised number one in the division and the best guy out there and that’s why he’s the one I want,” said Thompson.

“This is my time now and the world will see that on September 30th. I ain’t never been one to just take part, I’m a winner, I’m going to win.”

There is a lot on the line for Opetaia, too. After more than a year on the sidelines, he wants to prove that he still deserves to be recognised as the king of the 200-pound division.

The winner of Opetaia vs Thompson is mandated to face Briedis in their first title defence and if the champion retains his crown, he wants that fight before the year is through.

But first comes Thompson.

“I have been waiting too long for someone to challenge me and now we finally have a fight,” said Opetaia. “Thank you Jordan for stepping up but I hope you are ready!”