Home Boxing News Eddie Hearn: “Jai Opetaia should be a hero in his country”

Eddie Hearn: “Jai Opetaia should be a hero in his country”

Jai Opetaia. Photo credit: The Sporting News

The co-promoter of Ring Magazine and IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia 23-0 (18) says the Australian doesn’t get the credit he deserves in his home country.

The 28-year-old southpaw from Sydney travelled to London to make the first defence of the world titles he won against Mairis Briedis 28-2 (20) in July last year.

Opetaia signed a co-promotional deal with British powerhouse Matchroom Boxing earlier this year that pave the way for his UK debut against previously undefeated Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson 15-1 (12) at Wembley Arena in London on Saturday night.

In a blistering display of power boxing, Opetaia had home fighter bleeding from the nose as early as the second round, on the deck in the third and finished him off in the fourth.

It was as complete a performance as you could have hoped for and the praise for Opetaia came thick and fast on social media.

“Clinical brutality from @jaiopetaia1 who absolutely destroys Jordan Thompson who was hung out to dry by his corner and destroyed,” Main Event’s Ben Damon wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Opetaia was already the best cruiserweight on the planet but he has gone to a whole new level.”

Opetaia feels he has been overlooked both at home and abroad.

“I felt like this entire fight week was about Jordan Thompson,” said Opetaia. “It was nothing to do with me. They put me in this small ring thinking they were going to cut me off but look what happened. I got good footwork… I told them I got good power, too. Look what happened.”

Opetaia’s team believes he should have a higher profile in his homeland, where he the country’s most accomplished professional boxer.

“Over the years we’ve been very lucky to bring some special fighters to this country — Gennady Golovkin, Gervonta Davis, Artur Beterbiev,” said Matchroom Boxing boss Eddie Hearn.

“I think this is the guy that’s going to rule the division. I really do. I think he’s a monster. He fought a big guy tonight but he showed levels. He’s a special fighter.

“When you look at Australian boxing, this guy beat the best in the division Mairis Briedis — he should be a hero in his country. I hope people tuning in right now back home start to realise and put some respect on this guy’s name.

“You’ve got Tim Tszyu, who’s a great fighter, but this is a guy that’s done it, beaten champions and I think he can go on and rule the whole division. Honestly, I think he beats every man in the division.”

Now that Opetaia has introduced himself in person to the British audience, he plans on running through their best cruiserweights starting with a unification bout.

“I’ve been saying at all press conferences, I’ve come here to earn respect, not disrespect,” said Opetaia. “Chris Billam-Smith, I’d love to make that fight happen. I want that WBO around my waist.”