‘I can go all the way’: Eager Huni ready for return to the ring

Perhaps it’s a combination of his injury sabbatical and the exploits of his compatriots, but Justis Huni feels he’s slipped from the public consciousness.

“I feel I’ve been forgotten,” Huni said.

The euphoria of becoming the only man to inflict defeat on Paul Gallen was short-lived, given he injured his hands so badly in the process that he was forced to abandon his dream of competing at the Tokyo Olympics.

Now that his fists have healed, the 22-year-old plans to reannounce himself as the nation’s finest heavyweight in a clash with another unbeaten Australian, Joseph Goodall. Their plans to face-off, at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre on February 4, will officially be announced on Thursday.

Huni is keen to make up for lost time. Having not stepped into the ring since June, he plans to fight up to seven times in 2022.

“It’s been frustrating not being able to do everything I want to do in the sport I love, but setbacks make for a better comeback,” he said.

“My hands have fully recovered, I’m going to have my first spar on Saturday.

“It’s time to get back to work. It’s time to come back and make some more noise in the heavyweight division.”

The Goodall fight is a chance to show how much he learnt against Gallen. Despite struggling with injured hands, Huni was too good for the former footballer in the ring. However, he conceded he could learn much from him outside it; how to promote fights, and deal with the pressure and the glare that comes with the pay-per-view spotlight.

“It was a good experience and I took a lot away from it,” he said.

“Not so much in the ring, it was more the mind games because he knows how to sell a fight, and he has little tricks to get under your skin.

Justis Huni is back in the ring.Credit:Getty

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“For me, it was all learning, I took a lot out of it. Now I’m coming up against one of Australia’s best heavyweights besides me. It’s going to be a good fight.”

Huni flirted with the prospect of representing Australia at the upcoming Commonwealth Games and the Paris Olympics, but opted instead for a professional career. His father and trainer, Rockie, expects him to hit harder as the focus turns from scoring points to knockouts.

“Definitely there will be a lot more punches he will be sitting on,” Rockie said.

“He’s hitting the bag a lot harder, and I’m not surprised, he’s been carrying that injury for a while.

“He’s been in no-man’s land for a while. Since we’ve locked this fight in, he’s got some purpose again.

“He just wants to get back in, and he doesn’t care who he gets in with, he just wants to get into the ring.”

Should he beat Goodall, Huni is likely to earn a top-15 world rating with the WBO and IBF sanctioning bodies. Huni predicts he will quickly rise through the ranks and be ready to take on the biggest names in the global heavyweight division.

“I believe I can go all the way,” he said. “This first fight is a massive step in me getting a world title shot. I’m going to do all the work and preparation to get there. It’s going to be an exciting year, definitely a lot better than the year I had this year.”

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