My cousin is a Premier League legend… but I'm a world champion in a completely different sport | The Sun

FOR Jai Opetaia boxing is a family affair – but there is also a sprinkle of Premier League royalty.

Undefeated cruiserweight champion Opetaia is a fourth generation fighter on his dad's side and third on his mum's.

But amazingly, he is cousins with Everton legend Tim Cahill through marriage.

Opetaia, 28, told SunSport: “We’re not super close, I’m closer with his brothers but we’re related. We have a great bond.” 

Cahill – capped 108 times for Australia – made his name at Goodison Park with 68 goals in his 278 appearances.

He was also famed for his trademark celebration of boxing the corner flag – but did Opetaia inspire it?



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“Well, you could say that! But, probably not," he joked.

Opetaia added: "I’ve seen that a couple times. It’s really cool. But I don’t watch too much football at all.”

The Aussie- whose grandad Billy boxed professionally – had little to no time for football or anything else for that matter while growing upin Sydney.

He was raised in the gym and by eight he'd had his first boxing bout.

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Opetaia revealed: “It’s all I knew, I grew up in the gym, grew up boxing.

"I was a little kid, swinging off the bags, hanging out in the gym and it was a matter of time till I started punching them and the rest is history.

“I can’t remember doing anything else, I grew up fighting, I grew up boxing. I did kickboxing and just any type of contact sport.

“But boxing was always my calling and something growing up I was always putting boxing first, training first and always had fights coming up.

“I can’t remember ever thinking I wouldn’t make it in boxing.”

Opetaia represented his nation as an amateur, winning medals at junior and youth level.

He made it to the 2012 Olympics in London but was eliminated in the opening round.

By 2015, Opetaia turned professional but his big break came seven years later.

He dethroned Mairis Briedis for the IBF and Ring Magazine belts and defended it in London against Jordan Thompson in September.

But Opetaia's career will get a huge boost on December 23 when he features on the mammoth Christmas cracker card in Saudi Arabia.

He defends his titles against Ellis Zorro on the night Anthony Joshua faces Otto Wallin and Deontay Wilder returns against Joseph Parker.

Opetaia beamed: “I’m just excited to be on such a big card that the Saudis are putting on, it’s huge. 

“It’s a huge stage for me, a big opportunity for my profile and a big opportunity for my bank account!” 

Opetaia has been touted to potentially move up to heavyweight in the future.

And he shares a bill in Saudi with Daniel Dubois, Jarrell Miller and Filip Hrgovic also in action as well as light-heavyweight champ Dmitry Bivol.

So the ambitious unbeaten star will also use the Middle Eastern outing as a scouting opportunity.

He said: “I see myself moving up to heavyweight and fighting for world titles up there as well. 

“Being at that press conference just looking around, I was honoured to be there but at the same time I was looking at potential opponents. 

“Even Dmitry Bivol, respectfully I really respect Bivol as a fighter and the way he carries himself, I would be honoured to share the ring with him and fight him. 

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“I think he’s got an awesome style and he’s a hard fight, which I love. I think he’s an awesome fighter. 

“So him coming up to cruiserweight or me going up to heavyweight, it’s limitless what the future holds.” 

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