Opetaia's bizzare training no show
Young heavyweight boxer Jai Opetaia is off to the Olympics. Photo: Richard Briggs
Australia's boxing coach Don Abnett says teenage heavyweight Jai Opetaia has ruined his already tough Olympic hopes by splitting from the squad to train with his father in the United States.
Abnett says 16-year-old Opetaia will be out of his depth in London and has been told to rejoin the squad in Canberra this week.
While every other member of Australia's 10-man team recently toured Europe for seven weeks, Opetaia stayed at home in NSW and then travelled to the US to train with professional world champion Floyd Mayweather.
''He hasn't committed to any of the training leading into the Olympics with us,'' Abnett said yesterday.
''I'm not happy about it. It was his decision.
''He went over to America. Apparently he's training with the Mayweather camp.
''It's not the right start, not the right preparation to pull himself away from the team.
''There's obviously something wrong with where his head's at for him not wanting to come in here.''
Boxing Australia president Ted Tanner said he believed Opetaia and his trainer and father Tapu were returning to Australia today.
''They have been advised to rejoin the team this week,'' Tanner said.
The team will reconvene tomorrow in Canberra where it will train together until flying out on July 10 for a two-week camp in Ireland before the Games open on July 27.
Opetaia also missed much of the four-week lead up to the Oceania championships in March following a death in the family.
''I chased him up three or four times,'' Abnett said. ''I shouldn't have to, it should be his dad chasing me up. He said he was homesick and he didn't want to come back.''
Abnett told Opetaia that if homesickness kept him away from Canberra, he'd be better off staying at home than joining the team in Europe.
But Abnett is not happy Opetaia went overseas while the team was away and he hasn't spoken to the schoolboy in two months. ''How am I supposed to be accountable for what he's doing when he's over there?'' he said.
''He's only a boy … we had three big tournaments overseas which he needs.''
Abnett said Opetaia needed more fights against seasoned opponents after scraping into the Olympic team by winning the 91kg Oceania championships, his first senior international tournament.
While Abnett said the teenager had a great future, he expected him to struggle against experienced fighters at the Olympics.
''It's out of his depth,'' he said.
''He'll struggle bad at the Olympics.''
Tanner said age was not an issue for Opetaia, who turns 17 next month, as he had won the Australian and Oceania championships to qualify. Opetaia could not be contacted for comment. AAP