Man Of The Moment: Australian Pro Boxer Jai Opetaia
He Has The Fight Scheduled. He Has The Fan Club. Now, He Just Has To Win.
Not familiar with his name? You soon will be.
The 26-year-old Samoan Australian professional cruiserweight star has successfully cleared out the local ranks on his way to a 20-0 record with an impressive 16 knockouts.
Now, he’s reaped his reward, earning a mandatory shot at the IBF world title early in 2022. The IBF has mandated that Opetaia will fight cruiserweight champion Mairis Briedis by April 14, 2022, but negotiations are already underway which could see the fight being staged sooner. Many have their fingers firmly crossed on that.
To Aussie boxing fans’ delight, Opetaia has been rising up the ranks, holding the WBA Oceania cruiserweight title since 2019, although he hasn’t fought since October 2020 due to a hand injury.
That damn hand injury has hampered his career for years but now he’s back – and clearly means business.
He’s moved to the Gold Coast and says he’s on a mission to become the fittest he’s ever been; taking his training to a whole new level and pushing his body to its limits.
The fight is on, and the battle now is to bring it to Australia so that when Obetaia steps into the ring, it will be the first major world title fight held in Australia since Jeff Horn defeated Manny Pacquiao. Remember that fight in front of 51,000 fans?
That damn hand injury has hampered his career for years but now he’s back – and clearly means business
“This is what I’ve been working towards for my whole life, I’m finally going to tick the box,” Opetaia said. “People are excited about getting a world title shot. But I’m going in there to win, not just participate. I’m bringing the belt home. Hopefully that fight can happen in Sydney, with the COVID stuff going on, the closer to home the better.”
His promoter is Dean Lonergan – and if thatThat damn hand injury has hampered his career for years but now he’s back – and clearly means business name sounds familiar it’s because he organised the Horn versus Pacquiao event at Suncorp Stadium in 2017. We all know how that played out, because even those who aren’t sports fans couldn’t escape the mega hype.
“Team Opetaia, myself and Fox Sports all want that fight in Australia as well,” Lonergan said. “We haven’t had a major world title fight in Australia since Jeff Horn versus Manny Pacquiao and then Horn defended his title in Brisbane against Gary Corcoran.”
He adds that his experience with the Pacquiao fight was that it “took months and months to get over the line so it will take patience.”
And so, the hype and anticipation has already begun. You know how it goes…
To arm you with a little bit of background info, Opetaia represented Australia in the 2012 Olympics as a Heavyweight at the age of 16, making him the youngest ever Australian Olympic boxer. He also represented Australia in the 2014 Commonwealth Games.
And, out of the ring, he’s related to Australian soccer player Tim Cahill and rugby league player Ben Roberts of Parramatta Eels.
He has the fight scheduled. He has the fan club. He has the promoter. Now, he just has to win.