Fresh off the disappointment of his Tokyo Games withdrawal, Australian heavyweight Justis Huni is eyeing a trans-Tasman showdown early next year, before a UK trip that could see the 22-year-old represent his country, and further his professional career.
Huni was forced out of the Olympics after injuring his hand in a whirlwind few months that climaxed with a win over Paul Gallen in Sydney.
Now, the question is simple: what’s next?
According to promoter Dean Lonergan, the answer is starting to take shape.
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Lonergan revealed to foxsports.com.au that a bout in late February with Kiwi heavyweight Junior Fa is almost agreed, with a spot on Australia’s Commonwealth Games team also a priority for 2022.
Huni will need to qualify at the start of next year for the chance to represent Australia, with a showdown with Fa set to follow almost immediately.
The Games, which’ll be held in Birmingham, will also be the perfect opportunity, according to Lonergan, to set Huni up against one of the many bruising heavyweights over in the UK and Europe.
“It’s a great way to launch Justis up there,” Lonergan said, “to come out of that [Commonwealth Games] into a big fight.”
Names like Derek Chisora, Daniel Dubois, Joe Joyce, and French heavyweight Tony Yoka were floated by Lonergan, with the promoter confident Huni will be coming off a gold medal win.
After that, the goal will be Paris, which’ll be the “hardest part”, according to Rocki Huni — Justis’ father and trainer — as the 22-year-old juggles the amateur and professional world of boxing.
According to Rocki, Justis watched on as long-time friend Harry Garside won Australia’s first medal in boxing in 33 years, and it “put that fire back in his belly”.
“He was devastated [to miss out],” Rocki said of Justis, who has his sights now set on 2024.
First, though, Huni’s recovery must continue, before a showdown with Fa (19-1); a 196cm beast whose only career loss came via decision against former world champion Joseph Parker.
Right now, Lonergan is looking at either Sydney or Brisbane for the fight, with Sydney the frontrunner.
“He wants that fight bad,” Rocki said. “Justis wants to beat Junior Fa, but [more than that], he wants to stop him.”
Huni is back training with everything other than that injured right hand, which Rocki believes will be punching again in late November or December.