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Jason Whateley looks for ‘eventual’ meeting with Jai Opetaia

Jason Whateley looks for ‘eventual’ meeting with Jai Opetaia

JASON Whateley plans to continue fast-tracking his national title claims, as his fourth fight in seven months fast approaches.

The in-form cruiserweight, who owns four consecutive knockout wins, heads home for the first time since turning professional, facing well-travelled Argentine Alejandro Emilio Valori on October 12th as part of the third promotional instalment of WILDFIGHTER.

Whateley (5-0, 4 KOs) was originally slated to face former Commonwealth Games representative Lance Bryant, but the Kiwi was forced to withdraw due to a shoulder complaint.

Despite the late change, the 28-year-old is eager to make amends in his return to Bairnsdale, a regional city in East Gippsland, Victoria, in two weeks time.

“I had my first amateur fight in Bairnsdale, being a Lakes Entrance boy, and I boxed out of Bairnsdale,” he told Aus-Boxing.

“The support I’ve had from there from the get go is amazing. I’m so pumped for fight night, just knowing how packed it’s going to be, I’m expecting a sick vibe.

“The atmosphere is going to be off its head. There’s gonna be a heap of people on the night that haven’t seen me box since turning professional. I think it’s going to be great for the town.

“I’m glad to be back this early in my career and I’m incredibly grateful that Will (Tomlinson) has given me the opportunity to fight at home. Especially with the guys from the Bairnsdale Boxing Club on the same card as well.

“It’s just great that he can put together a card full of us local boys together, I think it’s already been shown with the past cards that Will always puts on great shows.”

An expected win should see Whateley compete at least one more time in 2019, with an assumed challenge for the national title in his immediate plans.

The vacant title was lifted by durable Queenslander Daniel Russell last month, and Whateley has one eye on the recently crowned titleholder.

“It’s always felt like a realistic option, but surely it’s got to be next,” Whateley told Aus-Boxing.

“They had ‘Plugger’ (Jayden Joseph) and Daniel Russell just fight for it and no disrespect to either, because they’re tough and good guys, I want to fight for it next. I don’t understand the politics behind it.

“I think it’s no secret that I’ve put my hand up to fight for the belt. Whoever has it in December should be next for me, I’m going to keep putting my hand up to fight for it, until my time comes.”

Whateley recently penned a management deal with Matt Clark, best known for his work with Lucas Browne, which will see Clark co-manage Whateley alongside his trainer, Marcos Amado.

The move should see Whateley swiftly progress beyond domestic level, with plans of mirroring the route navigated by Browne when under Clark’s guidance.

“Matt has shown in the past that he can work with someone and get them a shot at a world title,” he said.

“To have someone like him, with international connections, it’s a privilege. It’s good to have someone like him on my team and I’m really excited to have Matt on board.

“We had a meeting a while back and we kept in touch in the months that passed and kept talking. After another chat, we decided to bring him on board.

“It was something we thought about with other managers, we didn’t want to be another number. We’re in it for ourselves, we didn’t want to be left behind. Its really good, I’m pumped. I think it’s a good move, especially for my trainer Marcos, it’s good for his headspace.

“We can just focus on me as a fighter – not trying to manage me – or set up fights, or negotiate deals and just bettering me as as boxer.

“It’s better for him and better for me, as for everything else, he still has the ultimate say in everything else and what happens. They’ll continue to work closely.”

Whateley survived an early scare in his last fight, picking up the Victorian title with a thoroughly impressive performance against hard-hitting gatekeeper Victor Oganov.

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Having shown his durability in a memorable second round, Whateley believes his overall game will benefit from steering through the high tide.

“I really enjoyed the last fight and I’m actually glad that shot snuck through, as silly as it sounds,” he continued.

“I know I can take a shot, I’ve done it before in the amateurs, being hurt and being rattled. It was good to show it to the public and to myself and fighting my way though it because Victor came to fight.

“He took more punishment and took it more than anyone I know. I had to readjust my game-plan, but I really enjoyed the fight, even that shaky moment in there.

“On the night, I’m right in the zone, and it helps because I’ve fought in front of some big crowds, and I’ve been dropped before too. But every time I’ve been dropped, I’ve gotten up and won.”

Although he has significantly less experience than his former amateur rival, Jai Opetaia, Whateley envisions a scenario where they meet again, this time in the paid ranks.

Before a potential meeting between Australia’s two best cruiserweights can eventuate, a clash with fellow unbeaten prospect Floyd Masson could be on the cards, providing the circumstances suit all parties.

“We’ll see how the year plays out, but I’m hoping to get another belt under my waist before the year ends,” he concluded.

“I guess we’re going to have to wait and see what happens, I wanted to come in hot this year and I think I’ve done that so far. I’ll fight anyone, anytime and people should know that.

“Floyd is a good guy, I think we’d both be keen even though we’ve worked together in the past. I can’t see it not happening at some point, I think it’s inevitable that we meet at some point.

“The same goes with Jai Opetaia, it’s another eventual fight if I can keep getting wins under my belt. If he gets a title shot in the near future, I think I can sneak in there and get an opportunity with him too.”

More information on WILDFIGHTER’s ‘RND 3’, including ticketing information, can be found here.

Photo: Ray Rolla

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