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Heavyweight hotshot Justis Huni primed for professional debut

Power-punching youngster joins the pro ranks Thursday night

By Anthony Cocks

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Justis Huni
Justis Huni

It’s unusual for a boxer to make their pro debut over 10 rounds.

 

But Justis Huni isn’t your usual boxer.

 

The 21-year-old Australian heavyweight won gold at the World Youth Championship in 2016 when he was just 17 years old. Last year he claimed bronze at the World Amateur Championships. And on Thursday night he will face Samoan-born power-puncher Faiga ‘Django’ Opelu 13-1-1 (10) for the national crown in his first professional bout.

 

“My dream in the professional ranks is to unify all the belts,” Huni told Fox Sports.

 

“That’s all I want to do – unify all the belts and hopefully tick that off before I’m 30-years-old and then live the rest of my life.”

 

You can’t say Huni lacks ambition.

 

“Having this up first [the Australian heavyweight title], it is coming a lot faster than what I thought. It is a big jump, coming from the amateurs, but I believe in myself,” said Huni.

 

“[Opelu] is very tough. We’ve done so many rounds [sparring] in the past and we fought in the amateurs so we both know each other inside the ring. We have good spars – we go toe to toe. There’s going to be fireworks!”

 

The Sydneysider wants to go one better than his compatriots who have challenged for world titles in the past.

 

“I want to put the Australian heavyweight division on the map,” says Huni.

 

“There’s been a few Australian heavyweights that have made it to world title fights like Alex Leapai, Lucas Browne and Kali Meehan, but I have big plans to make the world take notice.”

 

Promoter Dean Lonergan of D&L Events is similarly bullish about Huni’s chances in the pro ranks.

 

“A couple of weeks before we signed him, Eddie Hearn was on the phone to his father Rocki, but it was a case of sitting down with him, finding out exactly what they wanted and what goals they wanted to achieve,” Lonergan said to Sky Sports.

 

“One of the things that came out clearly is that they want to do historic things, hence we’re fighting for the Australian title in the first fight out over 10 rounds. It’s never been done before.

 

“We aim to move him at lightning speed. Anthony Joshua managed to get the heavyweight title in 16 fights. With the right fights and starting out this way, I think that is potentially doable. I know that’s something that’s certainly on their radar.

 

“Do we think we can do it faster? The answer is – we’re certainly going to have a crack. I think realistically, maybe around the same sort of timing. Justis is going to be fighting every two months.”

 

Opelu, 26, picked up the vacant Australian heavyweight championship with a fifth-round stoppage of Kris Terzievski in Melbourne last November.

 

He has never been past the fifth round has averaged less than three rounds in his 15 pro bouts.

 

Regardless of champion’s credentials, Huni is confident he will get the win.

 

“It was a team decision. We all talked it over. I’ve done a lot of rounds of sparring with my opponent, so we know each other very well inside the ring. Yeah, we think we’ll be able to get the W,” Huni told Sky Sports.

 

“If we didn’t think that, we wouldn’t be going for this fight on debut. It’s a very tough fight, don’t get me wrong. My opponent is very tough, but we think we’ve got the tools to come away with the win.”

 

Huni is clearly being fast-tracked for success not just at the domestic level, but on the world stage.

“That was the goal with my promoter, to take the fastest route to a world title fight. We’re really just looking at knocking out all the fighters here in Australia and then going worldwide after that,” he continued.

“It will be amazing to have an Australian world champion. We’ve had Lucas Browne. But it would be good to have an Australian heavyweight that’s up on the top of the rankings in the world. It would be very good.”

It’s unusual for a boxer to make their pro debut over 10 rounds. But Justis Huni isn’t your usual boxer.

 

The 21-year-old Australian heavyweight won gold at the World Youth Championship in 2016 when he was just 17 years old. Last year he claimed bronze at the World Amateur Championships. And on Thursday night he will face Samoan-born power-puncher Faiga ‘Django’ Opelu 13-1-1 (10) for the national crown in his first professional bout.

 

“My dream in the professional ranks is to unify all the belts,” Huni told Fox Sports.

 

“That’s all I want to do – unify all the belts and hopefully tick that off before I’m 30-years-old and then live the rest of my life.”

 

You can’t say Huni lacks ambition.

 

“Having this up first [the Australian heavyweight title], it is coming a lot faster than what I thought. It is a big jump, coming from the amateurs, but I believe in myself,” said Huni.

 

“[Opelu] is very tough. We’ve done so many rounds [sparring] in the past and we fought in the amateurs so we both know each other inside the ring. We have good spars – we go toe to toe. There’s going to be fireworks!”

 

The Sydneysider wants to go one better than his compatriots who have challenged for world titles in the past.

 

“I want to put the Australian heavyweight division on the map,” says Huni.

 

“There’s been a few Australian heavyweights that have made it to world title fights like Alex Leapai, Lucas Browne and Kali Meehan, but I have big plans to make the world take notice.”

 

Promoter Dean Lonergan of D&L Events is similarly bullish about Huni’s chances in the pro ranks.

 

“A couple of weeks before we signed him, Eddie Hearn was on the phone to his father Rocki, but it was a case of sitting down with him, finding out exactly what they wanted and what goals they wanted to achieve,” Lonergan said to Sky Sports.

 

“One of the things that came out clearly is that they want to do historic things, hence we’re fighting for the Australian title in the first fight out over 10 rounds. It’s never been done before.

 

“We aim to move him at lightning speed. Anthony Joshua managed to get the heavyweight title in 16 fights. With the right fights and starting out this way, I think that is potentially doable. I know that’s something that’s certainly on their radar.

 

“Do we think we can do it faster? The answer is – we’re certainly going to have a crack. I think realistically, maybe around the same sort of timing. Justis is going to be fighting every two months.”

 

Opelu, 26, picked up the vacant Australian heavyweight championship with a fifth-round stoppage of Kris Terzievski in Melbourne last November.

 

He has never been past the fifth round has averaged less than three rounds in his 15 pro bouts.

 

Regardless of champion’s credentials, Huni is confident he will get the win.

 

“It was a team decision. We all talked it over. I’ve done a lot of rounds of sparring with my opponent, so we know each other very well inside the ring. Yeah, we think we’ll be able to get the W,” Huni told Sky Sports.

 

“If we didn’t think that, we wouldn’t be going for this fight on debut. It’s a very tough fight, don’t get me wrong. My opponent is very tough, but we think we’ve got the tools to come away with the win.”

 

Huni is clearly being fast-tracked for success not just at the domestic level, but on the world stage.

“That was the goal with my promoter, to take the fastest route to a world title fight. We’re really just looking at knocking out all the fighters here in Australia and then going worldwide after that,” he continued.

“It will be amazing to have an Australian world champion. We’ve had Lucas Browne. But it would be good to have an Australian heavyweight that’s up on the top of the rankings in the world. It would be very good.”

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