Brisbane boxer Justis Huni is making the most of the Tokyo Olympics being shelved for a year by turning professional.
Had the Games gone ahead as scheduled in July, the 21-year-old fighter would have travelled to Japan as an amateur and perhaps not armed with the necessary experience and ring nous to challenge for super-heavyweight gold.
But with the Olympics put on hold for 12 months due to coronavirus, Huni has decided to turn professional now in the hope of getting a handful of fights under his belt ahead of his Games’ tilt.
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Boxing at the Olympics had been only for amateurs until a ruling in June 2016 allowed professionals to box at that year’s Rio Games.
“I can’t wait to get a taste of the professional ranks and the longer rounds,” Huni said.
“I can hopefully get four to six pro fights in before I go to the Olympics and that’ll be a huge help to my development.
“I wasn’t too disappointed when I heard about the Olympics being put back a year because it gives me more time to prepare for the Olympic stage.”
Huni is hopeful coronavirus restrictions will be eased soon to allow him to make his professional debut by August.
“I don’t mind who the opponent is. I just want to try out new stuff we’ve been working on and put it into action because it’s different doing it in a gym and doing it in a fight situation,” he said.
The hulking Huni is trained by his father Rocki at the family’s Sunnybank Hills home.
“This is where he started — underneath this house,” Rocki said.
“He started boxing when he was seven but he’s been around boxing all his life. Before he could crawl he was in the gym rolling around.
“I’ve seen it before with kids coming through and then they get to a certain age and they plateau and have other interests, but he (Justis) seems to have kept on going and he’s focused on the Olympics and the pros and making it to the top.”
Huni earnt Olympics selection in March at the Asia/Oceania qualifiers in Amman, Jordan, where he placed second in the super-heavyweight (+91kg) division behind Uzbekistan’s Bakhodir Jalol.
Suffering his maiden international loss to Jalol left Huni disappointed.
“I learnt a lot from that fight,” he said.
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