Underdog champion has point to prove
He’s the Australian heavyweight boxing champion, but Faiga “Django” Opelu has happily grabbed underdog status against boom rookie Justin Huni for Thursday night’s national title bout in Brisbane.
Such is the hype surrounding Huni, who is fighting for the title in his first professional bout, that the champion is the forgotten man.
And that’s fine with 26-year-old Samoa-born Queensland slugger, whose record of 13 wins, a draw and a loss from 15 professional bouts gives him a huge edge in experience and ring nous over Huni.
“I like being the underdog,” Opelu said.
“It makes we want to prove myself to all the people that doubt me, so it’s not a problem for me … I’m not coming here to lose.
“He’s the number one amateur in Australia and he’s got skills.”
Not to mention confidence. Despite this being his maiden professional fight. 21-year-old Huni is already talking about winning every world heavyweight title on offer by the end of his career.
“I want to unify the heavyweight division,” Huni said.
“I want to leave my name behind, leave my mark in the heavyweight division. That’s why I want to come into the heavyweight ranks and go straight for an Australian title.
“My promoter Dean (Lonergan), when we first talked about turning pro, he told me history is what we do.
“That’s what I want to do – make history.”
Exciting heavyweight Justis Huni makes his pro boxing debut in an Australian Title fight tomorrow night on Fox Sports 💥 🥊
Watch the Jai Opetaia v Ben Kelleher card live from 7pm AEDT tomorrow on Fox Sports 507. pic.twitter.com/aLscBrWLGb
Huni also has an Olympic gold medal in his sights in the super heavyweight division at next year’s Tokyo Games, which delayed by a year due to COVID-19.
“I’m just take it fight by fight,” he said.
“If (the Olympics) do go ahead, which I’ve heard chat that is it going to go ahead, then that’s going to be the road I take.”
Lonergan, also the promoter of Jeff Horn, said Huni was good enough to be ranked as high as number two in the world heavyweight rankings by Christmas next year.
Justis Huni (left) and Australian heavyweight champion “Django” Opelu fight on Thursday night. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jono SearleSource:News Corp Australia
“That means we’re on a massively accelerated path,” Lonergan said.
“It starts here. If Justis can’t do the business (on Thursday night) it’s a whole re-draw to be bluntly honest.
“I’m very nervous about it but also very excited. I know the program we’ve got for the next year and a half and this fight is probably one of the hardest fights we’re going to have.
“We need Justis Huni to come out and make a big statement.”
The Huni-Opelu bout is the standout undercard bout at the Fortitude Music Hall, with the main event being a rematch between undefeated Jai Opetaia and Ben Kelleher for the WBO Global and IBF Asia-Oceania cruiserweight titles.
Both fighters have declared the bout as “unfinished business” after Kelleher broke his hand when he fought Opetaia in January 2018.
In other undercard fights, Kyle Freiberg meets Miles Zalewski for the state lightweight title, Ben Mahoney battles Ben Hussain in a super welterweight bout, Clay AJ Waterman goes head-to-head with fellow light heavyweight Dane Mulivai, and welterweight Ben Horn and Jed Ariens meet.
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