Professional boxing debuts often take place deep on undercards or at obscure venues but when a talented amateur steps into the paid ranks there is generally more fanfare, and when that boxer is a heavyweight the anticipation swells.
True to that formula there have been few more eagerly anticipated professional debuts in Australian boxing history than that of Justis Huni on Thursday night on Fox Sports.
|Event||Faiga Opelu vs Justis Huni|
|Date||Thursday 22 October 2020|
|Venue||Fortitude Music Hall, Fortitude Valley, Australia|
How watch Opelu vs Huni fight In Australia
Opelu vs Huni live stream: Australia, the Faiga Opelu vs Justis Huni fight will be shown on Main Event. Foxtel subscribers can order a pass online, but Optus TV customers will have to phone up to secure theirs. The price is the same regardless of which company you’re with though: $39.95 AUD.
Huni is a legitimate amateur star, having won a bronze medal at Super Heavyweight at the 2019 World Championships in Russia, and being amongst the gold medal favourites for next year’s rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.
The 21-year-old has an aesthetically pleasing style and complements his low-fisted stance with fast hands, an exquisite boxing eye and remarkable confidence.
“My dream in the professional ranks is to unify all the belts,” declares Huni.
“That’s all I want to do – unify all the belts and hopefully tick that off before I’m 30-years-old and then live the rest of my life.”
It’s a daunting ambition but so convinced are those around Huni that he is destined for greatness they have booked the reigning Australian Heavyweight Champion as his first professional opponent.
Faiga ‘Django’ Opelu will be having his 16th bout when Huni has his first. He boasts an admirable 13-1-1 record as a professional, with ten stoppage victories and the lone loss via split-decision in a tournament three-rounder.
The Samoan-born puncher won the title when he battered Kris Terzievski in five rounds in Melbourne last November and BoxRec places Opelu behind only the world-ranked Demsey McKean in their order of active Australian heavyweights.
“Having this up first (the Australian Heavyweight Title), it is coming a lot faster than what I thought. It is a big jump, coming from the amateurs, but I believe in myself,” says Huni.
“He (Opelu) is very tough. We’ve done so many rounds (sparring) in the past and we fought in the amateurs so we both know each other inside the ring. We have good spars – we go toe to toe. There’s going to be fireworks!”
The extent of the challenge facing Huni is historic in that no man has ever won an Australian title belt, in any weight division, on debut.
Two have tried – Barry Roberts lost his challenge for the light flyweight belt in 1993 and Andrew Crutchett drew his lone professional bout when fighting for the Australian Minimum Title in 1995.
The history is muddy around Harold Hardwick’s debut in 1915 that was considered an eliminator bout for the Australian Heavyweight Title. Hardwick won and it’s believed he was later elevated to the championship, which he lost to the great Les Darcy, but regardless a victory on Thursday night would see Huni the first man to take an Australian title belt home from his first professional bout.
“I want to put the Australian heavyweight division on the map,” says Huni.
“There’s been a few Australian heavyweight that have made it to world title fights like Alex Leapai (lost to Wladimir Klitschko), Lucas Browne (won the WBA ‘regular’ belt from Ruslan Chagaev) and Kali Meehan (controversially outpointed by split-decision against Lamon Brewster) but I have big plans to make the world take notice.”
Further, in the early years of the twentieth century Aussies Bill Squires and Bill Lang both lost when challenging for Tommy Burns’ heavyweight world title (which Burns lost to the great American Jack Johnson in Sydney in 1908) but Australian boxing is still searching for a heavyweight to lead us to the promised land.
Queenslander McKean is poised for his shot, and has even thrown his hat in the ring for a bout with WBC champ Tyson Fury, while 41-year-old former WBA Heavyweight World Champion Lucas Browne remains active, but the hype around Huni is unmistakeable.
If the sentiment is to be proved correct then a historic journey begins on Fox Sports on Thursday night.
Opelu v Huni is the main support to Opetaia v Kelleher 2, live on Fox Sports 505 and Kayo on Thursday night from 7pm AEDT