Opetaia issues warning to Billam-Smith and Masternak ahead of title fight

IBF cruiserweight champion Jai Opetaia might cast an eye over proceedings in Bournemouth this weekend, but he also might take himself off to go fishing instead.

While Opetaia defends his IBF title against Ellis Zorro in Saudi Arabia, his WBO counterpart Chris Billam-Smith puts his crown on the line in his first defence against Poland’s long-time contender Mateusz Masternak on Sunday in Bournemouth.

Australia’s Opetaia had been due to fight Masternak earlier this year, but shoulder surgery caused a delay and then a deal could not be struck after purse bids were called.

Neither Masternak nor Opetaia have much to say about one another, certainly nothing positive, but regardless of who wins between Billam-Smith and Masternak, Opetaia has always wanted to fight for the WBO belt.

“Good on them, go and do what you’ve got to do,” Opetaia said of Sunday’s clash in England. “Whenever you want it, I’m here, you know. I don’t get too busy into it, because it doesn’t matter if I do or not. I’m focused on my own career, doing my own shit. If they want to fight, whoever wins and if they want to fight, I’m ready. We can make that happen on a big card, you just let me know.”

Will the outspoken Australian be tuning in to watch his rivals?

“I don’t know,” Opetaia said. “We will see what happens on the day. I might go fishing or watch it later, I’ll see what happens.”

But he admits the WBO belt is one he has always wanted. Opetaia has previously spoken of his respect for Billam-Smith, who fights Masternak as the first of a three-fight deal with Boxxer that is thought to include rematches with Lawrence Okolie, whom he defeated for the title, and Richard Riakporhe, who beat Billam-Smith earlier in his career. 

However it happens, southpaw Opetaia wants to unify at cruiserweight and then move up to heavyweight. But the WBO title remains a box to tick on his ‘to-do’ list.

“It is, I’ve had my eyes on it for a long time and I’ve always wanted the WBO,” Opetaia added. “I’ve always wanted it, it would be good to fight for it and who knows what’s in the future.”