Home Boxing News Jai Opetaia out to prove he is still the king at cruiserweight

Jai Opetaia out to prove he is still the king at cruiserweight

Jai Opetaia. Photo credit: The Sporting News

It’s been a long time coming but IBF and Ring magazine world champion Jai Opetaia 22-0 (17) will finally get the opportunity to make the maiden defence of his titles when he takes on Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson 15-0 (12) at Wembley Arena in London, England on September 30.

The 28-year-old Australian southpaw has had a bad run of luck since his impressive title winning effort against Mairis Briedis 28-2 (20) in July last year.

In that bout he suffered two fractures to his jaw that saw him eating through a straw for four months while it healed.

This was followed by an acrimonious split from former promoter Dean Lonergan that found its way to the courts.

Then there was the circus-like negotiations with top contenders Mateusz Masternak 47-5 (31) and Richard Riakporhe 16-0 (12) that saw both boxers withdraw on the eve of purse bids.

Yet despite all the setbacks Opetaia has remained in the gym, sharpening his tools and waiting for his opportunity to shine once again.

IBF number five ranked contender Thompson, 30, is a tricky customer. At six-foot-six he will have a four inch height advantage over Opetaia and a similar advantage in reach. But the reigning champion says he is ready for anything the challenger brings.

“He’s a good fighter. I believe he’s got nothing to lose and everything to gain, so I know he is going to come with it all,” Opetaia said.

“But we’re ready. We’re ready for 12 rounds of war. He wants to box out long, I’m fit enough to do that. He wants to come in close and bang, I’ve got some bombs ready for him and I’m fit enough to do it for 12 hard rounds.

“I feel like I’ve got an answer for everything he’s got. I’ve got more ammunition than he does. I’m ready.

Opetaia signed a co-promotional deal with Matchroom Boxing earlier this year and the Thompson bout will be his first under the new banner.

Matchroom chief Eddie Hearn admitted he wanted to move Thompson a little slower, but that the opportunity to fight for the world title was too good to refuse.

“The main event is a bit of a wild one really,” Hearn said to The Daily Mail. “Jordan Thompson is someone who I have looked at thought could be a bit of superstar. He looks fantastic, he speaks very well and he punches really hard. He’s also a tremendous athlete. I see him moving up to heavyweight.

“I was thinking I will give him two fights and then get him in contention for a world title. Then Richard Riakphore pulls out of his world title fight and Opetaia wanted a defence. Jordan was there ready and we got the fight together.

“In one fight, Jordan could become the number one cruiserweight in the world. It’s a really good fight. It’s a dangerous one for both boxers but it’s an exciting one.”