Australian Cruiserweight Jai Opetaia has achieved plenty in his 14-fight career to date. The 22 year old has secured State and National titles and is the current OPBF (WBC) and IBF World Youth Champion.
The WBO have now installed him at #15 in their latest world ratings in recognition for his efforts.
Jai had a stellar amateur career winning the Light Heavyweight title at the 2011 Junior World Championships going onto qualify for the 2012 Olympics aged just 16, making his the youngest ever Australian Olympic boxer.
Jai caught the attention of many as a professional when last year he demolished American Frankie Lopez (10-0) in devastating style in the 1st round to secure the IBF World Youth Title.
Lopez, who is trained by former light heavyweight legend Virgil Hill, struggled with the raging aggression and power from Jai and was sent to the canvas via a wicked southpaw left cross at the 2.55 mark in the first round, and didn’t recover.
Jai started 2018 year with a bang notching up another TKO win in January against local Benjamin Kelleher, with the fight ending in the 3rd round. Kelleher was unbeaten in 9 outings.
Where to from here? According to his manager & promoter Michael Francis, they will be announcing his next fight later this week and it will be another quality experienced opponent as he now makes his charge at climbing the ratings mountain.
“We have our matchmaker Stuart Duncan seeking out a meaningful fight for next month and expect to have someone secured by the end of the week. We have a number of boxers on our radar with Luke Watkins, the current Commonwealth Champion, firmly at the top of the list,” said Francis.
“Luke is 13-0 while Jai is 14-0 and we see him as a great test to see where Jai is at. Jai already holds the OPBF title which is aligned with the WBC, as is the prestigious Commonwealth title. WBO International champion Mairis Briedis is another option we will be chasing as is Ruslan Fayfer who holds the IBF’s version of the International title.
“With Jai being the IBF’s World Youth Champion we see that title as another meaningful title to secure in a competitive fight. We are happy to travel if we have to, but we are also prepared to pay these guys to come out to Australia if they want, so there can be no excuses.
“We intend to keep Jai busy in 2018 in competitive fights enabling his father and trainer Tapu to hone and polish skills while we use this year to get him into contention.
“At just 22, we have time on our side and our goal is not to get him a world title shot, we want him to win one! So preparation is everything,” he added.