Cruiserweight Jason Whateley is one win away from a possible all-Australia world title showdown with IBF Champion Jai Opetaia.
The 31-year-old Victorian was confirmed this week to fight Mateusz Masternak in his home country of Poland in an IBF title eliminator on Sunday October 2 (October 1 in Poland).
The winner becomes the mandatory challenger to the IBF world title won by Opetaia, a former Whateley sparring partner, when he overcame a badly broken jaw to defeat Mairis Briedis on the Gold Coast last month.
“Jai 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’s at,” Whateley said Sporting News.
“I’ve definitely checked it out [the possibility] but for now it’s one step at a time.
“I have to get past this one first and then we’ll reevaluate it and go from there.”
Standing in the way of this potential matchup is Masternak – a seasoned veteran with 51 pro fights.
— Jason Whateley (@jwhateleyboxer) August 9, 2022
The 35-year-old Pole has an impressive 46-5 record while also fighting for the WBA world title on the side, and Whateley knows it won’t be an easy night at the office.
“I think it’s going to be an action packed fight, he’s not a massive puncher but his work rate seems to overwhelm his opponents,” Whateley said.
“I have to make sure I’m extremely fit for that. I think that’s his strength – he’s quite fit and has a good work rate throughout the fight.
“This is something we will be wary of and we will be prepared for.
“That’s what I came into the sport for, 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 pro and has stopped his last nine opponents.
The fight with Masternak represents a significant step up in quality over his previous opponents, but much like Opetaia before his fight against Briedis, Whateley believes he simply hasn’t had a chance to show he can take on the best.
“It’s hard in the professional game to work your way up there, half the battle in getting through it is trying to get the right opponents and get them to fight you, especially when you haven’t had that many fights.” Whateley said.
“I think I’m there, I’ve looked at his footage and I think if I prepare properly and have a good camp I’ll beat him. I am very confident in doing this.”
Whateley believes Masternak’s home assist will not be a factor and he has the right game plan to get the job done.
“Once you’re in there it doesn’t matter where you are, every boxing ring is the same, once you’re in there it’s just him and I moving on,” he said.
“I’ll be bigger than him, I’ve got a nice jab and I think that’s probably his weakness, he eats the jab a bit so I think nice long shots can get him.
“For those who tune in, it’s going to be an exciting fight and it definitely won’t be boring, that’s for sure.”
If Whateley wins it will pave the way for a blockbuster fight with Opetaia, although the latter’s recovery from his jaw injury will dictate when that takes place.
Opetaia required surgery to screw in his jaw after breaking both sides in the win over Briedis.
The injury is expected to keep him out of the ring for several more months.