Fury vs Usyk: Jai Opetaia hunting Oleksandr Usyk fight: ‘I’ve always been in the shadows’ | Boxing News

Jai Opetaia does not just want to inherit Oleksandr Usyk’s throne. He wants to beat the man himself.

Opetaia could quite possibly be the best cruiserweight in the world today. The Australian rematches Mairis Brieidis in an IBF world title fight on the undercard of the Tyson Fury vs Oleksandr Usyk heavyweight championship clash on Saturday, live on Sky Sports Box Office.

Opetaia has designs on unifying the other cruiserweight titles, but he longs to fight Usyk, who was formerly the undisputed champion of the division.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Usyk’s camp jokingly say Tyson Fury could be in an underwear advert and believe he is too skinny

“I would love to fight Usyk,” Opetaia told Sky Sports. “I’ve watched Usyk for a long time. I was a 17-year-old kid at the Olympics in London in 2012 and he won the Olympics. I’ve always been in the shadows, I’ve always been very close and now I’m starting to roll into my prime.

“I’m not a little kid anymore. Now they know. I’m on their radar. It’s a good feeling. He’s always been at the top of where I was at. He’s always been the No 1 seed, so to get a fight with him – I would love that.”

Opetaia does not blink when he locks his eyes on to you. He speaks with an unwavering intensity and is training with remarkable ferocity right through the final days before his world title fight on the Riyadh undercard.

This week he allowed Sky Sportsprivileged access to see his work in the gym. It was no light shakeout, it was an unrelenting session that saw him drill his footwork over and over before he pummelled bags and cycled through padwork with cracking power-punches. He worked himself to failure, and he had a second workout coming up that same day.

It was remarkable, not only to gain such an insight into an elite fighter’s preparation, but for Opetaia to be going through that routine so close to such a major fight.

“I don’t know why they all have these taper weeks. We’re preparing for 12 hard rounds,” Opetaia explained. “It’s what I’m used to, it’s what my body needs, my mind needs. I need to stay active.”

This rematch with Breidis is certainly expected to be tough. The first one was brutal with Opetaia defeating the Latvian despite sustaining a double break of his jaw during the contest.

“I’m expecting a hard fight, I’m expecting 12 rounds of war and anything less than that is going to be disappointing,” he said.

“If I’ve got to break my jaw again and carry on, then so be it. This is what it takes.”

Those qualities, his grit, power and not least his outstanding southpaw footwork led Tyson Fury to bring Opetaia in as a sparring partner to prepare for Usyk.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Usyk watches on as Fury pretends to play the guitar during his media workout

He described his experience with Fury: “It was good adapting to a new style. It was a great little chess match. I learned a lot from it. When I went there my focus was leaving there knowing that we mean business. I wanted to earn his respect. I wanted to leave that camp and his whole team thinking that Jai is the real deal and I feel like I’ve done that.

“I feel like this fight we’re going to see a version of Fury that we haven’t seen for a long time. A hungry Fury. A Fury that can be beat if he doesn’t perform well, and he knows that,” Opetaia added.

“So I feel like he’s going to be preparing the best he’s prepared in a long time to win this fight. He was confident he was going to win those last couple of fights.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Usyk was tight-lipped on what his approach for Fury would be, but did reveal he has a great plan!

“He knew his boxing IQ was better than a lot of those fighters that he’s been fighting. He relied on that. This one, he can’t rely on that natural ability, he needs to put in the hard work as well and I feel like we’re going to see that.

“He proves himself time and time again, people keep underestimating him and he keeps proving them all wrong.

“So I’m very excited to watch this fight.”

It’s one of the biggest sporting events in a generation.Tyson Fury and Oleksandr Usyk collide for the undisputed world heavyweight championship on Saturday May 18, live on Sky Sports Box Office.Book the fight now.

#Fury #Usyk #Jai #Opetaia #hunting #Oleksandr #Usyk #fight #Ive #shadows #Boxing #News

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *