Home Boxing News Jai Opetaia walks through Jordan Thompson, calls for unification bouts

Jai Opetaia walks through Jordan Thompson, calls for unification bouts

Jai Opetaia lands on Jordan Thompson. Photo credit: Mark Robinson/Matchroom Boxing

IBF and Ring Magazine champion Jai Opetaia 23-0 (18) has spent the better part of 18 months plotting his return to the ring.

Injuries, promotional disputes and the reluctance of top contenders to face him have stalled his career.

But on Saturday night at Wembley Arena in London, England he stepped back into the spotlight for the first time since his title winning effort against Mairis Briedis 28-2 (20) in July last year.

And what a return it was.

The 28-year-old Australian southpaw utterly dominated previously undefeated IBF number five ranked contender Jordan ‘Troublesome’ Thompson 15-1 (12), stopping him in four one-sided rounds.

The fight always looked to be a big step up in class for the 30-year-old Thompson from London and it proved to be the case.

Despite his four inch height advantage he struggled to keep Opetaia at bay as the champion darted in and out landing hard shots at will and avoiding most of the return fire.

Opetaia made his intentions known early in the bout, taking control in the first round and roughing up the hometown fighter along the ropes just before the bell.

Opetaia continued to apply the pressure and had Thompson bleeding from the nose as early as the second frame. In the third the champion really opened up, dropping Thompson for the first time in the fight.

The fourth round didn’t last long. Opetaia hurt Thompson almost immediately and a straight left, right hook combination put paid to Thompson’s world championship ambitions.

Referee Howard Foster waved off the contest at the 0:20 mark as Thompson fell to the canvas.

Before the fight Thompson repeatedly spoke of boxing being a form of “artistic violence”. Unfortunately for him, he became the canvas for Opetaia’s brutal brush strokes.

“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 is expected to face 38-year-old Latvian veteran Briedis next in a rematch, but his real goal is to unify the 200-pound weight class starting with WBO titleholder Chris Billam-Smith 18-1 (12).

“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.”

Opetaia’s co-promoter Eddie Hearn called on Billam-Smith to demand a unification bout rather than going into an immediate rematch with former titleholder Lawrence Okolie 19-1 (14).

“Unfortunately Chris has got to fight Lawrence Okolie, which will put a damper on his career,” the Matchroom Boxing boss said.

“He should be saying to his promoters, ‘Can’t I go talk to Eddie Hearn and make a massive unification fight that everyone wants to see for loads of money?'”

Billam-Smith indicated he would be down for the fight in 2024.

“Absolutely. The whole point of boxing is the best fighting the best,” he told BBC Sport.

“I’ve got a belt, he’s got a belt, so I’ve got some business to do in the meantime this year, but next year we’ll be looking to unify.”