Huni could sacrifice millions for Olympics redemption

2 months ago 22
PR Distribution

Australian heavyweight champion Justis Huni is aiming to compete at the Commonwealth Games in Birmingham next year and possibly Paris 2024, after missing the Tokyo Games due to a hand injury.

Huni is recovering from surgery on his broken right hand — injured during sparring and then reaggravated in his defeat of Paul Gallen last June via 10th-round stoppage.

With plans to fight Kiwi Junior Fa later this year pushed back to early next year because of the pandemic, Huni wants to add a Commonwealth Games campaign to what could already be a jam-packed 2022.

Watching friend Harry Garside win bronze in Japan has given the Queenslander extra motivation to compete for Australia on the world stage despite the star having to adhere to rules around his eligibility to participate.

Justis Huni is congratulated by Paul Gallen after winning their Australian heavyweight title fight - though Gal did have one bone to pick with young rival. The NRL great wasn't happy with Huni's lacklustre promotional efforts. (Getty)

Huni can compete in professional bouts but must commit to only competing in amateur fights during certain periods in the lead up to major events. That includes state selection trials in January-February next year, then from April until the end of the Commonwealth Games.

The Huni camp plans to compete in amateur trials and then fight Fa in a pro bout in March before focusing on the Comm Games.

Huni's hunger to compete in the amateur ranks despite turning professional is unusual. In most cases, boxers use the Olympics as a vehicle to turn professional and never look back.

Huni's father and trainer Rocki confirmed his son's plans to represent Australia on the amateur scene while continuing his professional career. He acknowledged fighting in the amateurs is a different style than the pros but the fighter was committed to competing for his country.

"The two sports are different. The way Justis fights now it's mostly an amateur style. The good thing about it is that Justis can hold that style he can go ten rounds holding that style," Rocki told Wide World of Sports.

"But there have been a few changes we've been working on to improve his knockout ratio to get him to sit on crucial punches that you can still use in the amateurs.

Huni catches Gallen with a body shot. (Getty)

"It will change but you're never going to get rid of that style, he's had it for years. It's good for tall people the angles and the movement. With that you're going to have to give up a bit of power."

Huni has resumed non-contact training over the past month and plans to hit the bag in December. The boxer has started gripping things for the first time since his surgery and hopes to ramp up his fitness once his hand has fully healed.

Rocki Huni said he has no concerns about his son competing in the amateurs and at pro level at the same time with the fighter even eyeing a shot at the Paris 2024 Games.

Huni will be 26 when the next Olympics come around, and will have to give up pro bouts between the 2023 World Championships and the 2024 Olympics for a chance to compete in France. Depending on how quick his professional career progresses, Huni could give up potentially millions of dollars for a shot at Olympic gold.

Huni training with his father and trainer Rocki. (Getty)

Furthermore, there is a fear that ducking in and out of the professional ranks back to the amateurs could slow his progress in a heavyweight division that is dominated by power punching. Huni Sr believes his son will grow into the fighter he needs to become.

"Time will tell but it will slow you down because in the amateurs they want clean punches, it's more in and out and the movement," Rocki said.

"It's definitely two different styles. Right now with the guys he's being put up against Justis won't have issues using the amateur style against these guys.

"Like Junior Fa, the biggest problem Fa will have against Justis is he will work on him and stay on him. I know it will have some sort of affect with the power but Justis is only at 65 per cent of where he's going to be.

"He has a lot of growth but if he can do what he does at home in sparring, once he works that out, he'll be very hard to stop."

For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!

Read Entire Article