By Vince D’Writer: On Saturday night at Wembley’s OVO Arena in London, the IBF cruiserweight world champion Jai Opetaia returned to the ring and made his first title defense as he stopped the challenger Jordan Thompson (15-1, 12 KOs) in the fourth round.
Prior to the bout, the UK boxing pundits feared that the British cruiserweight was jumping up too many levels to face the IBF cruiserweight champion.
When the bell rung to start the fight on Saturday night, the UK boxing pundits fear became a reality.
Back in 2012, Jai Opetaia, at the age of 16, became the youngest Australian boxer to qualify for the Olympics. Three years later, he made his pro debut by posting a unanimous decision victory over Isileli Fa.
After accumulating 21 career victories, Opetaia received his shot at a world title when he faced Mairis Briedis on July 2, 2022. Opetaia defeated Briedis by way of unanimous decision and became the new IBF cruiserweight champion, but unfortunately, he suffered a broken jaw in the process.
After spending almost fifteen months out of the ring, Opetaia made his return on Saturday night. In the opening round of the bout, Opetaia was testing his opponent’s jaw as he consistently landed the left hand.
Opetaia was forcing the pace by jumping in and out of range, landing the left to the body and up top. In the closing seconds of round one, Opetaia connected with a big left and followed it up by landing a vicious flurry of shots, but fortunately for the hurt challenger, he was saved by the bell.
The defending champion started the second round by landing a solid left hand shot. Opetaia was in complete control of round 2, but as the round was coming to an end, Thompson landed a big right hand.
Thompson landed another solid right hand in the opening minute of the third round, and Opetaia responded by firing a flurry of shots that sent Thompson down to the canvas. Thompson was able to get up, but in the closing seconds of the third round, he had to survive another flurry of heavy shots.
In the fourth round, as the two boxers stood in the center of the ring, Jai Opetaia landed a straight left that staggered Jordan Thompson. Opetaia proceeded to end the fight when he landed a left, followed by the right.
Jai Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) went into a hostile environment and showed why he is considered to be the number one cruiserweight in the world. The IBF champion has unification on his mind as he wants his next bout to be against WBO cruiserweight champion Chris Billiam-Smith.