- Aussie had to wait 15 months to defend his titles
- Broke his jaw during previous fight, which he won
- Has the backing of legendary boxing promoter Hearn
Eddie Hearn has declared Jai Opetaia the cruiserweight king, worthy of hero status and blockbuster title fights in Australia, after a ruthless first defence of his world boxing crowns.
Opetaia brutalised hometown hope Jordan Thompson inside four rounds in England on Sunday morning (AEST) to retain the IBF and The Ring belts he won spectacularly last July.
A sweet left hook hit Thompson flush on the forehead in the first round to set the tone at London’s Wembley Arena.
The giant Manchester product steadied in the second round but Opetaia went again in the third, flooring him and then finishing him 20 seconds into the fourth round with another combination built around his left hand.
Aussie Jai Opetaia had a commanding win over England’s Jordan Thompson to retain his IBF and The Ring belts
Opetaia had to wait 15 months to return to the ring to defend his belts after breaking his jaw in the fight he won them in
‘I told you. This is what I do … I’m born for it, live for it,’ Opetaia said.
‘I feel like this fight night was Jordan Thompson’s fight night.
‘They made it about him, nothing to do with me. They put me in this small ring, thinking they’d cut me off, my good footwork.
‘But that’s what happens.’
The Gold Coast-based Sydney talent had to wait 15 months for a chance to defend the belts he won in incredible fashion, breaking his jaw twice but still prevailing against champion Mairis Briedis in July last year.
This was all one-way traffic though, Opetaia now targeting more belts in fights on home soil after calling out WBO belt holder Chris Billam-Smith, who was ringside, after the win.
Legendary boxing promoter Eddie Hearn believes Opetaia has what it takes to rule the cruiserweight division
OpetOpetaia (centre) poses with his belt, team and Eddie Hearn following the IBF World Cruiserweight Title Fight against Jordan Thompson at the OVO Arena Wembley
His dominance perhaps showed why contenders Richard Riakporhe and Mateusz Masternak’s camps both pulled out of negotiations at the 11th hour.
Opetaia’s team tried unsuccessfully to stage his first defence in Australia before settling for the trip to the United Kingdom under Matchroom Boxing’s Eddie Hearn.
An Olympic heavyweight at just 16 at the 2012 Games, Opetaia also won junior world titles and his record now reads 23-0 with 18 stoppages.
‘This is the guy that’s going to rule the division; he’s the king of the division, a special fighter,’ Hearn said.
‘He’s a monster; I hope people tuning in back home (in Australia) start to realise.
‘You’ve got Tim Tszyu who’s a great fighter but this guy has done it, beaten champions.
‘There’s massive fights to be made in Australia … he should be a national hero.
‘Our job now is to make sure he brings every belt to Australia.’