Jai Opetaia was a class apart from Jordan Thompson today in London, demolishing his challenger to retain the IBF cruiserweight title in a DAZN main event.
Opetaia (23-0, 18 KO) put Thompson down in the third and fourth rounds before referee Howard Foster stopped the fight, and he was putting it on Thompson (15-1, 12 KO) from pretty much the opening bell.
In short, this was never competitive, and the massive step up in competition for the 30-year-old Thompson proved far too much.
To give him his deserved credit, Thompson got the eye-opener in round one but absolutely did not roll over, he did the best he could here, but Opetaia, 28, is simply a world-class fighter, and Thompson had never seen anything like him with live ammo flying.
Opetaia pretty well asserted himself as the world’s best cruiserweight with this win, coming in his first fight since his July 2022 war with Mairis Briedis, a Fight of the Year-level affair where Opetaia had his jaw broken.
There was some worry about how he’d respond to the injury and the layoff, but it’s fair to say he responded quite well.
“This is what I do. I’m born for this shit, I live for it,” Opetaia said after the fight. “I feel like this fight night was Jordan Thompson’s fight night, you know what I mean? I feel like they made it about him. It was nothing to do with me. They put me in this small ring thinking they were going to cut me off, but that’s what happens. I’ve got good footwork, and they tried to take that away from me with this little ring.
“But I’ve got the power, too. I told them from the start they were underestimating my power, and that’s what happens.”
“I felt good. All the operations are upgrades,” he said about the jaw. “I don’t think about them anymore. I’m stronger now. I’ve got this fight out of the way and I’m looking forward. Who’s next? I’ve been saying it, I come here to earn respect, not disrespect. I’d love to fight (Chris Billam-Smith), I want that WBO belt around my waist.”
Opetaia vs Thompson highlights
- Cheavon Clarke UD-10 Vasil Ducar (98-92, 99-91, 99-91): Clarke, 32, goes to 7-0 (5 KO), and there’s no shame in not stopping Ducar, who is a rounds-grinder and a tough dude, someone who’s a very valuable test to pass for cruiserweights on the way up. Chris Billam-Smith didn’t stop him, either, and he’s got a world title. “Chev” clearly wants to move up the ranks, and he definitely tried to stop Ducar here, but Ducar has only been stopped once. Again, tough dude.
- Jimmy Sains TKO-3 Bartlomiej Stryczek (1:23): A successful pro debut for Sains, a middleweight and national amateur standout. Making his debut on a “main card” portion isn’t an indication that he’s some mega blue chipper, but Matchroom like doing this for UK amateurs making debuts if they can. He did look good, did the job you’d want him to do. He definitely sold some tickets, and those guys have real value on any card, and the UK promoters do a good job working with that.
- Rhiannon Dixon UD-10 Katharina Thanderz (100-90, 100-90, 100-90): Dixon (9-0, 1 KO) picks up the previously vacant European lightweight title with this win. A really dominant showing, Dixon doesn’t have that many levels up to go from here, and 135 will open up if/when Katie Taylor decides she’s either done in general or done at the weight, which isn’t that far in the future.
- Ellie Scotney UD-10 Laura Griffa (99-91, 100-91, 100-90): Scotney (8-0, 0 KO) retains her IBF 122 lb title with a clear win. She maybe started a bit tight, but Griff was no threat to her overall.