Opetaia Demolishes Thompson in London; Wallin Upsets Gassiev in Turkey


In his first defense of his IBF cruiserweight title, Australian southpaw Jai Opetaia demolished overmatched Jordan Thompson in the featured bout of a Matchroom card at London’s Wembley Arena. Opetaia (23-0, 18 KOs) overwhelmed Thompson (15-1) from the opening gun and had the six-foot-six Mancunian on the canvas twice before the match was waived off at the 20-second mark of round four.

An Olympian at the age of 16, Opetaia won the title 15 months ago with a unanimous decision over longtime title-holder Mairis Briedis. Noting that Opetaia broke his jaw in two places early in that contest, prominent Australian sporting journalist Simon Smale called it “one of the bravest, gutsiest, victories in Australian boxing history.”

Following that fight, Opetaia had to eat through a straw for several months. Hence, there were questions about whether his jaw would hold up and whether he would show ring rust in his first title defense. But the towering Thompson, whose nickname is Troublesome, although game, proved to be no trouble whatsoever for Opetaia who would be favored to beat any cruiserweight in the world, no matter the locale.

Opetaia may return to England for his next fight which would be a unification match with Bournemouth’s 18-1 Chris Billam-Smith who captured the WBO version of the 200-pound title in May with a surprisingly one-sided decision over favored Lawrence Okolie. The other cruiserweight title-holders are the well-traveled Badou Jack (WBC) and the French-Armenian boxer Arsen Goulamirian (WBA).

Four female fights were on the undercard including two 10-rounders, both of which were won by the “A side” Englishwomen.

In her first title defense, Ellie Scotney, a 25-year-old Londoner, retained her IBF world super bantamweight title and improved to 8-0 at the expense of 37-year-old Argentine veteran Laura Soledad Griffa (20-9). In a rather monotonous fight, Scotney won every round on two of the scorecards and nine rounds on the other

Rhiannon Dixon, a 29-year-old southpaw, had a surprisingly easy time with Norwegian veteran Katharina Thanderz, a former world title challenger. Dixon (9-0) won every round on all three cards. Thanderz, who trains in Spain, declined to 16-2.


In a 12-round heavyweight fight in Antalya, Turkey, Swedish southpaw Otto Wallin (26-1, 14 KOs) won a split decision over Murat Gassiev (30-2). This was a dull fight. Owing to various issues, Gassiev had answered the bell for only eight rounds in the previous seven years and his vaunted power had deserted him. True, he landed the harder punches, but Wallin, who kept pecking away with his jab, was far busier and won the fight on volume alone. Two of the judges had it 115-113 for the Swede who is 6-0 since going 12 rounds with Tyson Fury. The other judge scored it for Gassiev by a bizarre 117-111.

Opetaia-Thompson photo credit: Mark Robinson / Matchroom