JUSTIS Huni could be Australia’s best Olympic medal hope in over three decades.
But in the wake of the worldwide COVID-19 pandemic, and the subsequent postponement of the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Huni’s dreams of a gold medal have been pushed back a further twelve months.
The unprecedented industry-wide pause has placed the prodigiously talented Queenslander, who earned a podium finish at the AIBA World Boxing Championships last September, in an unique position — with Huni announcing plans to immediately enter the paid ranks.
The shock announcement has been unanimously welcomed by industry professionals alike, with Huni set to make one of the most eagerly anticipated debuts in Australian boxing history, according to leading broadcaster Ben Damon.
“Justis and his management are making a smart move for both Justis the amateur and Justis the professional,” he told Aus-Boxing.
“Under the new rules he will still be able to compete at the Olympic Games and this gives him the capacity to stay active, which would be very difficult if he stayed amateur. Plus his professional experience will be invaluable against his key competitors in Tokyo.
“Justis is a supremely gifted big man, with an enticing style and a brilliant eye. He drips boxing quality and legitimately appears to be the complete heavyweight package.
View this post on Instagram
📣📣🇦🇺👊🏼-ANNOUNCEMENT-👊🏼 I’m Happy to announce I will be turning Professional as soon as the restrictions are lifted..! I will be still able to compete at the next Olympics due to rule changes. More news about my future will be announced over the next few weeks.. #TasmanFighters #JPHBoxing 📸- JamesPaul, BlackLabel
A post shared by Justis JPH Huni – Boxer🇦🇺🇼🇸🇹🇴 (@justisjphhuni) on
“From purely a boxing perspective Justis’ first professional fight could be the most eagerly anticipated heavyweight debut ever in Australia. The hope is that it’s the start of a magnificent journey.”
Given his recent form at world level competition, the 21-year-old will inevitably enter the Olympics as a firm favourite for a podium finish.
Guided by his long-time team, including the likes of father Rocki Huni, and trainer Mark Wilson from Bethania Boxing Club, Huni is tipped to make an immediate impact after the completion of his Olympic duties.
“Justis will head to Tokyo carrying the hopes of a nation,” Damon added.
“He is a genuine chance of winning our first ever Olympic gold medal in boxing and our first Olympic boxing medal of any colour since Spike Cheney won silver in 1988.
“And now, before Tokyo, we get to see what Justis the professional is all about and with the names that are being considered to face him on debut, it is clear that Justis’ team is extremely confident he is ready for the big time.”
Photo: Getty Images