Jai Opetaia’s camp have dismissed rumours the Australian dropped Tyson Fury in sparring ahead of his heavyweight title showdown against Oleksandr Usyk.
Fury is currently in camp for his undisputed title fight with the undefeated Ukrainian, set to take place in Saudi Arabia on 17 February.
‘The Gypsy King’ is already in Riyadh where he has based his fight camp with a number of fighters brought along to help prepare the WBC champion for that historic fight.
Among those is Opetaia, now rated as the best fighter in the cruiserweight division after two destructive wins over British fighters Jordan Thompson and Ellis Zorro in 2023.
The 28-year-old was stripped of his IBF title in farcical circumstances last month but remains The Ring Magazine champion. He will fight Mairis Briedis for that same IBF title on the Fury vs Usyk undercard next month.
Opetaia, like Usyk, is a southpaw fighter and sparred five rounds with Fury before returning home. From those five brief rounds, rumours began to swirl that the cruiserweight had sent Fury to the mat.
Opetaia’s co-promoters Tasman Fighters however released a statement denying those suggestions.
‘Jai Opetaia has recently returned from Saudi Arabia where he sparred and trained with Tyson Fury,’ his promoters said.
‘They were fantastic, competitive rounds and an incredible experience for Jai.
‘However, any talk of either boxer being dropped is not true. Jai is now back in Australia finalising his preparation to defend his world title and cannot wait to do so in Saudi Arabia.’
Opetaia outpointed Briedis, the same man he fights next month, to win the IBF title in 2022.
His knockout wins over Thomson and Zorro, the latter on the Anthony Joshua vs Otto Wallin card in December, extended his professional record to 24 wins, 19 of those coming via knockout.