Ben Shalom Unveils Plans for Jai Opetaia v Chris Billam-Smith
Jai Opetaia (22-0, 17 KOs) scored one of the upsets of 2022 when he scored a unanimous decision win over Maris Briedis to win the IBF cruiserweight title in July 2022. His performance against Briedis was more astounding because from the second round on, he fought with a broken jaw!
Due to that injury, the 27-year-old from Sydney, Australia has been on the shelf. But is he on the verge of returning to the ring? BOXXER Promotions CEO Ben Shalom wants to make a fight between the champ and one of the fighters on his roster, Commonwealth Boxing Council titlist Chris Billam-Smith (16-1, 11 KOs). During an interview with Sky Sports, Shalom talked about his hopes to make a bout between Opetaia and Billam-Smith
“I do expect that fight to happen. We are in talks with Jai. I think he wants to fight in December. We’d like to sign him. We think he’s a very talented fighter that has been the guy no one really wanted to fight. […] Jai wants to come over to the UK and defend his belt over here.”
MONTHS IN THE MAKING?
This move should not come as a surprise. Billam-Smith is coming off an exciting win over Isaac Chamberlain in July 2022. On the Sky Sports boxing series ‘Toe2Toe’, before that bout, Opetaia’s manager, Dean Lonergan went on record stating he would love his fighter to face the winner. Ranked by all four world sanctioning bodies (2nd WBO, 3rd IBF, 5th WBA, 7th WBC), Billam-Smith has shown himself ready for a world title shot.
A fight between him and Opetaia would be an interesting one. A southpaw, the champ is very smooth and fluid in the ring. The Aussie is highly-skilled but also carries power in both hands. The Brit likes to stalk his opponents behind the jab and break his opponents down mentally and physically.
Shalom feels positive he can finalize a deal, and the match can take place. Stay tuned to 3Kings Boxing for further updates.
By: Michael Wilson Jr.