By Scott Williamson: Cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia emphatically defended his IBF and Ring Journal titles in a four-round demolition of British challenger Jordan Thompson at Wembley Enviornment on Saturday night time. Opetaia, boxing for the primary time since dethroning harmful Latvian Mairis Breidis in a July 2022 thriller, confirmed no signal of rustiness as he made quick work of his overmatched opponent.
Thompson, inexperienced on the higher ranges of the game, appeared out of his depth from the opening bell as Opetaia landed energy punches seemingly at will. At 6’6, the Brit held a four-inch top benefit, however he was unable to forestall the Australian from closing the space and touchdown hurtful blows.
Opetaia punctuated the primary spherical with a barrage of punches that left Thompson visibly wobbled. The second spherical noticed a lot of the identical, with the champion simply discovering his technique to the within and bowling photographs excessive regardless of his opponent’s superior attain.
A sequence of highly effective rights and lefts felled Thompson lower than a minute into the third. Sensing blood, Opetaia launched a relentless assault that had Thompson staggering again to his stool on the finish of the spherical.
The Brit’s nook would have been forgiven for calling a halt to proceedings between the motion, however they despatched their man out to maintain additional punishment. A robust overhand proper then despatched Thompson tumbling to the canvas early within the fourth, and referee Howard Foster accurately waved the combat off.
“That is what I do. I’m born for this s**, I reside for it,” Opetaia mentioned after the combat. “I really feel like this combat night time was Jordan Thompson’s combat night time, you realize what I imply? I really feel like they made it about him. It was nothing to do with me. They put me on this small ring, considering they have been going to chop me off, however that’s what occurs. I’ve received good footwork, they usually tried to take that away from me with this little ring. However I’ve received the ability, too. I advised them from the beginning they have been underestimating my energy, and that’s what occurs.”
Opetaia, who improves to 23-0, was returning to the ring after 14 months of inactivity following his upset victory over Breidis in a fight-of-the-year candidate. He suffered two fractures to his jaw in a grueling encounter in opposition to the Latvian and made reference to repeated surgical procedures in his post-fight interview. “I felt good. All of the operations are upgrades. I don’t take into consideration them anymore. I’m stronger now,” he mentioned of his restoration.
Definitely, the champion didn’t appear troubled by lingering harm. Trying forward, he set his sights on WBO titlist Chris Billam-Smith. “I’ve received this combat out of the way in which, and I’m wanting ahead. Who’s subsequent? I’ve been saying it, I come right here to earn respect, not disrespect. I’d like to combat [Chris Billam-Smith]. I would like that WBO belt round my waist.”
Billam-Smith, overlaying the combat for UK radio, expressed enthusiasm a couple of potential unification. Nevertheless, he’s contractually obligated to rematch Lawrence Okolie, whom he unexpectedly defeated in Might of this 12 months.
With each Billam-Smith and Okolie occupied, Opetaia may face one other Brit in Richard Riakporhe, who beforehand withdrew from an ordered bout in opposition to the Australian after their respective promoters failed to return to an settlement. Riakporhe knocked out former WBO champion Krzysztof Głowacki in January.
It’s unlikely that Thompson, a one-time tennis prospect, will obtain one other world title alternative within the close to future.