Jason Whateley locked in for Mateusz Masternak title eliminator ahead of possible Opetaia bout

Cruiserweight Jason Whateley is one win away from a potential all-Australian world title showdown with IBF champion Jai Opetaia.

The 31-year-old Victorian was this week confirmed to fight Mateusz Masternak in his home country of Poland in an IBF title eliminator bout on Sunday, October 2 (October 1 in Poland).

The winner will become the mandatory challenger to the IBF world title which Opetaia, a former sparring partner of Whateley’s, won when he overcame a badly broken jaw to defeat Mairis Briedis on the Gold Coast last month.

“Jai’s got himself into a position where he’s at the top of the tree and we’re all climbing that tree to try and get to the top where he is,” Whateley told Sporting News.

“I’ve definitely had a look at [the possibility] but at the moment it’s one step at a time.

“I’ve got to get past this one first and then we’ll reassess and go from there.”

In the way of that potential matchup is Masternak – a seasoned veteran of 51 professional fights.

The 35-year-old Pole has compiled a formidable 46-5 record, fighting for the WBA interim world title along the way, and Whateley knows it won’t be an easy night at the office.

“I think it will be an action-packed fight, he’s not a massive puncher but his workrate seems to overwhelm his opponents,” Whateley said.

“I’ve got to make sure that I’m extremely fit for it. I think that’s his strength – he comes in pretty fit and he has a good workrate for the entire fight. 

“That’s something that we’re going to be wary of and we’ll be prepared for it. 

“That’s what I got into the sport for, big fights like this.”

Whateley, who represented Australia at the Rio Olympics and won a silver medal at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, is 10-0 as a professional and has stopped his last nine opponents.

The bout with Masternak represents a significant step up in quality from his previous opponents but, much like Opetaia before he fought Briedis, Whateley believes he just hasn’t yet had the chance to show he can mix it with the best.

“It’s hard in the professional game to get yourself up there, half the battle when you’re coming through is trying to get the right opponents and having them agree to fight you, especially if you haven’t had that many fights,” Whateley said.

“I believe that I’m there, I’ve had a look at his tapes and I think, if I put in the right preparation and have a good camp, I’ll beat him. I’m very confident of doing so.”

Whateley believes Masternak’s home support won’t be a factor and he’s got the right gameplan to get the job done.

“Once you get in there, it doesn’t matter where you are, every boxing ring is the same, once you’re in there, it’s just me and him punching on,” he said.

“I’m going to be taller than him, I’ve got a nice jab and I think that’s probably his weakness, he eats the jab a little bit so I think nice long punches are going to be able to catch him out.

“For those that are tuning in, you’re going to get an exciting fight and it definitely won’t be boring, that’s for sure.”

If Whateley does win, it paves the way for a blockbuster bout with Opetaia, although the latter’s recovery from his jaw injury will determine when that takes place.

Mairis Briedis Jai Opetaia

Opetaia had surgery to screw his jaw into place after it was broken on both sides in the win over Briedis.

The injury is expected to keep him out of the ring for several more months.

 

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