Jai Opetaia of Sydney, Australia (22-0, 17 KOs) obliterated challenger Jordon Thompson of London (15-1, 12 KOs) in four vicious rounds with an impressive display of speed, footwork, and power punching. The fight reached its official conclusion at 20 seconds of the fourth round for a TKO win. Opetaia retains his IBF and lineal championship titles in the main event of a Matchroom Boxing card Saturday at the O2 Arena in London.
“I told you, man. This is what I do. I'm born for this shit. I live for it!” said Opetaia of his victory.
“I feel like this fight night was Jordan Thompson's fight night. They made it about it. They put me in this small ring, thinking they were going to cut me off. But that's what happens. I've got good fretwork. I told them from the start they were underestimating my power and that's what happens.”
Thompson Brave But Battered
Although the southpaw Opetaia gave up five inches in height to the 6-foot-7 Thompson, his aggressive foot placement and lack of any fear allowed him to land hard left and right hooks almost at will, starting from the opening bell in the first round. A blistering right hook early threatened to end the fight early.
Thompson recovered enough to make it to the second round. He managed to defend himself with some offense, but it had to be diminished by the damage he's already suffered. Opetaia found the target in the third round for the first official knockdown. He got to his feet, but with two minutes left in the round, everyone but Thompson knew where things would end.
Thompson bravely carried on as Opetaia blitzed him from all sides. In the final minute of the round, veteran British referee Howard Foster circled but didn't step in to end things. Thompson wobbled back to the corner.
It was time for Thompson's team to stop the fight. Instead, trainer Tony Sims told Thompson, “I'll give you one more round.” Sims asked Thompson to roll and take the shots on the shoulder, as Thompson struggled with range.
It took Opetaia just seconds to drop Thompson at the start of the fourth round, this time for good as Foster waved it off when Thompson crumbled to the canvas. It was completely unnecessary and will be subject to plenty of criticism in retrospect. Credit Thompson for his bravery, he could have quit with no shame. He'll learn and return.
Of the final stoppage, Opetaia said, “I hurt him early, I got a bit excited, throwing some bombs. I got back to my corner and was told to relax. It will just come more natural, and that's what I did.”
Opetaia said his repaired jaw was almost like an upgrade, and presented no issues at all for him.
Unification Ahead for Opetaia
Matchroom Boxing promoter Eddie Hearn put Opetaia in the category of foreign fighters brought to the UK like Gennadiy Golovkin, Gervonta Davis, and Artur Beterbiev.
“He should be a hero in his country. I hope people start to put respect on this guy's name,” said Hearn. I think he can go on and rule the whole division. I don't see anyone beating this man in the division.” Hearn added there are massive fights to be made in Australia.
Opetaia said he'd like to take on Britain's Chris Billam-Smith for his WBO cruiserweight belt. Count us in.
Clarke Continues Cruiserweight Division Rise
British cruiserweight prospect Cheavon Clarke (7-0, 5 KOs) prevailed in a dominating action fight against veteran Vasil Ducar of the Czech Republic (14-7-2, 10 KOs). Scores were 99-91 twice and 98-93 for Clarke. It was a fun fight to watch with both fighters willing to trade and rough things up. Clarke landed multiple hard shots on Ducar who proved plenty durable, but he had little to threaten Clarke in a serious way. Clarke wins the vacant IBF International cruiserweight title.
Watching ringside was former cruiserweight champion Marius Breidis, who lost his title to Jai Opetaia in a bloody, brutal brawl. He'd certainly like a crack at a rematch with Opetaia, but he also got an eyeful of Clarke. Either would make a fun fight for fans.
British Women Rock The Undercard
Rhiannon Dixon of Warrington (9-0) won the European lightweight title with a decision victory over Katarina Thanderz of Norway (16-2, 2 KOs). Dixon is trained by British fan favorite and former champion Anthony Crolla, who’s leaned into his new role delivering precise advice in the corner. Credit to Crolla who has the makings of a future Trainer of the Year.
Ellie Scotney of London (8-0) made a successful first defense of her IBF World Bantamweight title against Laura Soledad Griffa of Buenos Aires (20-9, 1 KO). Griffa gave a good effort, but Scotney is too skilled to get drawn into a firefight when it’s not necessary. She isn’t afraid to engage and when warranted, she showed solid offense. She’ll need it in unification fights against someone like Yamileth Mercado of Mexico.
British super flyweight prospect Shannon Ryan of Watford (6-0) continues to impress with her aggressive style, dominating Xenia Jorneac of Romania (11-7). Ryan, age 26, was a high-level competitor in taekwondo and kickboxing. She made the switch to boxing and turned pro after just a handful of amateur bouts. Ryan tortured Jorneac with wicked body punching.
Ryan is already setting her sights on a fight with Seniesa “Superbad” Estrada. Ryan isn’t ready yet, but we’re salivating at the thought of an all-action bout between the two when the time is right.