Delayed Olympics to accelerate Aussie star’s pro career
Gold medal hopeful Justis Huni has the option of turning professional in heavyweight boxing and still competing at the Tokyo Games.
Australia's best boxing prospect for many years, Huni is determined to pursue his dream of winning the nation's first boxing gold in Japan after the IOC announced the Games would be postponed until 2021 due to the coronavirus.
A loophole allows Olympic hopefuls to have up to 10 professional fights and still compete at the Games, and Huni will pursue this option if the Tokyo Olympics is pushed back beyond 2021.
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"I'm still going to focus on the Olympics, regardless of the situation," Huni told The Daily Telegraph.
"I'll leave that to my coach and management, they'll figure all of that out."
Huni's manager, Mick Francis of Tasman Fighters, said his 20-year-old prodigy will look to the professional arena if the Olympics are postponed beyond next year.
"There is a possibility that the Olympics may be postponed for two years, and if that is the case we will look at having three or four professional fights," Francis said.
"If it happens this time next year then there will be no need to explore professional bouts, because they can't be held through this time either.
"But if there is another delay of the Olympics to 2022, then we've got a Plan B and we'll explore it."
The man who defeated Huni in the final of the Olympic qualifiers three weeks ago, 201cm Uzbekistan giant Bakhodir Jalolov, has already fought six professional bouts since 2018.
Jalolov and Huni will be tipped to meet in the gold medal fight in Tokyo.
Jalolov, 25, has been switching between professional and amateur fighting to keep his gold medal dream alive while building his brand in the United States, where he has now relocated after signing a deal with promoter Lou Di Bella.
Huni makes no secret of his own ambition in the sweet science: "To be an Olympic gold medallist, and to be the professional heavyweight champion of the world."
The prospect of winning the gold medal is on Huni's mind every day.
"It'll change my life, my family's life," Huni said.
"I don't know how I'd handle it, but when that time does come a lot of things will change in my life in a positive way, I'll be really happy and it will feel like all the hard work I've put in will have paid off."
After returning to Brisbane from the qualifiers in Jordan, Huni had to self isolate after showing symptoms of the virus, but his test came back negative.
"Coming back from the qualifiers I had a little cough so I was worried, once I got my test results back and it was negative I was relieved," he said.
He's since resumed his daily 5am training regime.
"I've still got a lot to work on, coming back from the qualifiers, I felt I could have done a lot better," said Huni, who is training in a makeshift gym in the garage of his childhood home.
"All the equipment in here, I've pretty much had since day dot.
"I've got a new boxing bag but everything else here is old school, a tyre, a sledgehammer, everything we need to do hard sessions to toughen me up a little bit.
"So it's back to basics, keep focusing on what I need to work on.
"My old man (Rocki), my coach, has a lot of things he feels I need to work on, so I'll get back to gym.
"I'll be able to readjust, I've got things to work on anyway so if anything it's better for me.
"By the time the Olympics come around, I'll be ready."
Originally published as Delayed Olympics to accelerate Aussie star's pro career