Top-ten ranking coming for Aussie Jai Opetaia
By Anthony Cocks
Cruiserweight contender Jai Opetaia 18-0 (14) of Australia kept his unbeaten streak alive with a clear-cut 10-round points decision victory over durable New Zealander Nikolas Charalampous 18-3 (8) at Luna Park in Sydney, NSW on Saturday night.
It was the first time Opetaia had gone the distance since his fourth pro bout three years ago and the first time he had been extended the 10-rounds.
The world-rated 24-year-old southpaw was in control throughout the bout, punctuating the win by dropping the 26-year-old Aucklander to the canvas in the eighth frame with a left to the jaw.
Charalampous looked for openings throughout the fight but was unable to mount any sustained attack as Opetaia controlled the distance with his jab and utilised his superior hand-speed to connect with accurate single shots and combinations every time his opponent got close.
As the rounds progressed, Opetaia – who entered the fight on a streak of 13-straight knockouts – looked increasingly comfortable as he shook up the visitor with big shots from both hands.
Despite his dominance being reflected on the judges’ scorecards with winning margins of eight, nine and 11 points, Opetaia admitted he wasn’t at his best.
"I didn’t feel it was my best performance but at this point of my career, it was awesome to get the rounds," said Opetaia, who is ranked WBA #11, IBF #12 and WBO #15 and might move into the top 10 of at least one of those sanctioning bodies with the victory.
In other action recent Top Rank signing Daniel Lewis 3-0 (2) claimed the vacant Australian junior middleweight championship with a 10-round unanimous points decision victory over experienced southpaw campaigner Wade Ryan 16-9 (5).
The 25-year-old Rio Olympian delivered a classy display, mixing up his shots well to the body and head to give the man who troubled Tim Tszyu in 2017 all he could handle.
Talented super featherweight Liam Wilson 4-0 (3) needed just two rounds to stop Ariel Puton 5-1 (4) of the Philippines in their scheduled eight-round bout.
Super bantamweight Sam Goodman 5-0 (2) looked impressive in stopping Filipino Claudevan Sese 7-2-3 (1) in the third stanza of their scheduled six-round bout. Goodman, 20, was all over Sese like a cheap suit, forcing the referee to intervene and halt the bout.
Earlier in the evening former rugby league teammates at the South Sydney Rabbitohs Luke Burgess and Beau Champion has their dual debutant bout cut short when Champion suffered a bicep injury early in the fight. Burgess was awarded the win by TKO1 in their planned three-round bout.