Justis Huni v Paul Gallen: Huni fails to attend promotional gig

Justis Huni has left boxing promoters “filthy” after failing to show-up for an organised interview with Fox Sports.

The spectacular no-show from Huni has led rival Paul Gallen to claim the young heavyweight is running scared.

The simmering build-up to the Gallen-Huni fight is set to explode at Tuesday’s weigh-in with Gallen claiming Huni is ‘rattled’ and pulled out of the scheduled media commitment in reaction to the former NRL star’s blistering press conference promise to end his rival’s Olympic dream by any means necessary, including a threat to break his arm.

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Justis Huni failed to attend a planned promotional event. Picture: Mark Evans/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Huni was scheduled to appear on NRL 360 on Monday night to promote Wednesday night’s bout.

However, the 106kg heavyweight failed to appear.

Promoter Dean Lonergan admitted he was disappointed – but excused Huni’s disappearance, due to a miscommunication.

Gallen said Lonergan was merely covering for the 22-year-old.

“Make no mistake, I’m not happy about it,’’ Lonergan said.

“I’ll put it down to a miscommunication from Justis, he didn’t know it was locked in and made alternative arrangements.’’

Gallen replied to Lonergan’s explanation by stating: “He’s covering for Huni, which says everything.

“Of course, he (Huni) knew the interview was locked in. We both know our commitments.

“He didn’t want to face the cameras again after the press conference.

“He’s running scared, just like he has done in the past by pulling out of his fight in 2019 because he said he felt sick.’’

Gal explodes in extraordinary Huni outburst

Paul Gallen revealed his ruthless streak by promising to end Justis Huni’s Olympic dream by any means necessary, including a threat to break his arm.

A riled Gallen shocked onlookers as he lay into Huni, his father Rocki and fight promoter Dean Lonergan at Monday’s press conference, warning Australia’s gold medal aspirant that during Wednesday night’s bout he would “break” Huni.

“I’ll do whatever I can, referee or not, I’ll break his arm, he won’t get to the Olympics,” Gallen said.

There is plenty of animosity between Paul Gallen and Justis Huni.Source:Getty Images

Huni, who departs for Tokyo next month, shot back: “No way he’ll destroy my Olympic dream. I’ve been wanting this for too long, I’ve been training for this for too long.”

Gallen (11-0-1, 6KO) explained his ultra-aggressive tone afterwards.

“They’ve done nothing but put shit on me for weeks, Dean Lonergan as well, there comes a time you’ve got to stick up for yourself,” Gallen said.

“I can’t understand the perception around me that I’m the bad guy, that I’ve had a go at them.

“They’ve called me a pig, they’ve called me a donkey, Lonergan said I’m racing against Winx and my name is Eeyore, I’ve done none of that.

“I’ve done nothing but be respectful, and I bite back once and I’m the bad guy?”

Gal stunned onlookers with the strength of his outburst.Source:Getty Images

During the press conference, Lonergan said: “It’s a two-horse race, Justis is Winx and Paul is Eeyore.”

Rocki Huni, who trains his son, had previously called Gallen a donkey.

Gallen turned to Rocki during the presser and said: “There is nothing sadder than seeing a father try to live his sporting dreams through his son. Shut up.”

Boxing: Promoter Dean Lonergan is supremely confident Justis Huni will remain undefeated when he comes up against Paul Gallen, comparing the young star to Winx while likening …

Boxing: Promoter Dean Lonergan is supremely confident Justis Huni will remain undefeated when he comes up against Paul Gallen, comparing the young star to Winx while likening the NRL great to Eeyore.

That line caused a flicker of anger across Justis Huni’s face, the first time he has shown perceptible emotion at Gallen’s verbal assault throughout the build-up to the fight.

Rocki Huni, a former fighter, was seething.

“Living through my son, that’s bad, I understand the hype but that’s below the belt,” Rocki said.

Justis Huni showed a rare hint of emotion in the face of Gallen’s attack.Source:Getty Images

“Both my boys know they can pull up whenever they want, it wouldn’t bother me.

“I do this sport because it’s what my boys want to do.”

Huni (4-0, 3KO) had calmed when asked about Gallen’s dig at his father after the media conference.

“My dad and I have got a good relationship, he puts a lot of time and effort into me,” Huni said.

“It goes hand in hand. If it wasn’t for all the effort he put into me, I wouldn’t be standing here in this position today.

“He puts in as much work as I do.

There is no love lost between the two camps.Source:News Corp Australia

“We can say whatever we want, but how’s that going to help when we get in the ring and we’re punching each other in the face? It’s just words man, we’re tough, we’re in this sport, so words shouldn’t bother us.”

Rich reward: Huni chasing $20m world title dream

Heavyweight champion Justis Huni is on track for a $20 million payday and will become one of Australia’s richest and most recognisable athletes when his boxing career hits top gear.

That is the assessment of his promoter Dean Lonergan, the man who helped Jeff Horn become a world champion, as Huni prepares for his heavyweight showdown with NRL legend Paul Gallen at Sydney’s International Convention Centre on Wednesday night.

The Brisbane-born Huni will celebrate the first six-figure cheque of his career when he squares off against Gallen eyeing his fifth consecutive victory since winning the Australian title in his professional debut.

But very soon Huni, according to Lonergan, will join Australian sport’s millionaires.

When Huni clobbered Faiga ‘‘Django’’ Opelu in his pro debut last October, he walked out of Brisbane’s Fortitude Music Hall with the Australian heavyweight belt and $30,000.

Justis Huni will pocket the biggest cheque of his career when he fights Paul Gallen on Wednesday night. Picture: Justin LloydSource:News Corp Australia

But in the land of boxing’s giants, the sweetest music of all is the bevy of dollar bills that rain on a heavyweight division where pay packets are as formidable as the monstrous punches from Tyson Fury, Anthony Joshua and Deontay Wilder.

WBC world champion Fury is guaranteed $30 million for the third instalment of his blockbusters against Wilder, who will pocket $20 million. A proposed Fury-Joshua unification bout is worth at least $100 million for each fighter.

While Huni is not in their league yet, he stands to make millions within 12 months by virtue of the strength of the heavyweight boxing economy.

Lonergan estimates a world-title shot could earn Huni at least $10 million. But, of course, there is a caveat: Huni must keep winning. If he beats Gallen on Wednesday night, the 106kg hulk will become a world-ranked heavyweight with the IBF, a status that would put Huni on the path to pay days the kid from Woodridge never envisaged.

“If Justis keeps winning, it’s an unstoppable flow of cash,” said Lonergan, whose connection with Top Rank boss Bob Arum helped Horn secure his epic world-title fight against Manny Pacquiao at Suncorp Stadium in 2017.

“The sky is the limit financially for Justis. I expect him to make one to three million next year and realistically he stands to earn $20 million if he can secure a world-title shot.

“The beauty of the heavyweight division is the astronomical amounts of money that the big boppers stand to earn. Prices are going through the roof, so Justis can become one of Australia’s highest-profile sportspeople ever and also one of their best paid.

“That‘s saying something when you look at the NBA and how Ben Simmons is going.”

The 211cm, Melbourne-born Simmons has signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia 76ers worth $US177 million, which equates to $229m in Australia.

Justis Huni has the potential to become one of Australia’s highest-paid sportspeople. Picture: Justin LloydSource:News Corp Australia

Some of Australia’s other mega earners include Formula One star Daniel Ricciardo, basketball trio Joe Ingles, Patty Mills and Matthew Dellavedova, golf’s Jason Day and Adam Scott and tennis queen Ash Barty.

Most domestic boxers are flat out meeting the average Australian annual salary of $90,800. But those with pugilistic X-factor can amass major wealth.

Next Sunday, Sydney lightweight George Kambosos will fight for three world titles against Teofimo Lopez in Miami. He will pocket $2.7 million in a life-changing payday that could be an apt template for Huni’s financial journey in the fight game.

“Previously, Justis’ fights wouldn’t have turned over more than $300,000, but now Gallen is facing him and the turnover will be in the millions,” Lonergan said.

“If you get to a heavyweight world-title fight the absolute bare minimum (purse) is $10 million US, going up as high as $20 million-plus, and those sorts of figures could be a couple of years away for Justis.

Justis Huni believes he can be competitive against heavyweight superstar Anthony Joshua. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

“Justis will be going to the Olympics next month and if he wins a gold medal there, who knows what that can do for his profile.”

Despite criticism he lacks the knockout power to win a world title, Huni is determined to scale the heavyweight summit.

“I don‘t want to come into the sport and just fight in my backyard,” he said.

“I believe I can be competitive against Anthony Joshua and Tyson Fury, 100 per cent. I think my speed and angles for a heavyweight could test guys like Joshua and Fury.”

For now, Huni only has eyes for Gallen (11-0-1, 6KO), who is oozing confidence after his shock first-round belting of Lucas Browne.

HUNI REVEALS HIS ULTIMATE BOXING GOAL

By Jamie Pandaram

In his diary, Justis Huni plans his days meticulously.

There are daily goals, marks to cross off, and then the grand list at the back that he’ll glance at every now and then, reminding him why he puts in the grind.

“I’ve already written my goals for the future, they’re set,” Huni said.

“There’s unifying the heavyweight division. And within all of that is me trying to build my legacy, so I can leave my name behind.

“That’s the ultimate goal, to have my name remembered forever. Like Muhammad Ali, he’s gone now but his name will live on forever with what he’s done.

Justis Huni wants leave a legacy in boxing. Picture: Richard DobsonSource:News Limited

“I just want to be a positive role model inside and outside of the ring.”

To emulate The Greatest, Huni is taking no shortcuts.

As a child, he would rise at 4am to pound the pavement because his father Rocki had to start work at construction sites at 6am.

Rocki is now a manager and doesn’t need to be on site, yet Justis continues the same routine even though he could sleep in and do his road run at a more comfortable hour.

“He’s never complained, he just gets up and does it,” Rocki said.

“He probably pushes himself harder than I could push him.

“Every morning, my wife joins us, we follow him on our bikes. At 4am, it has been cold lately, but we get up and go.

“The roadwork is all part of boxing, he understands that.

“It’s got to the point where it’s not hard for Justis.”

Justis Huni is inspired by Muhammad Ali. Picture: Getty ImagesSource:Supplied

This 22-year-old boxing star, who can make his 107kg frame run 6km in just 25 minutes, is not immune to the lure of a warm bed.

“I’ve overcome the mental challenge of how cold it is in the morning now to get out there and just get it done,” Huni said.

“You get up, you walk out there and you just want to turn around and go back to bed. But I push past that mental barrier in my head and get it done.

“Sometimes I count my steps, like ‘one two, one two’. I do little things like that to take my mind off it. On Mondays, the start of the week, is always the hardest day of training so we do the longest run, 8km. By the end of the week we’re doing more explosive stuff, strength and agility.”

Huni was drawn to the sweet science watching older brother Lopeti box.

During his first spar, Rocki saw it.

Justis Huni with his father Rocki. Picture: Alix SweeneySource:News Corp Australia

“It wasn’t a punch, it was watching him evade punches,” Rocki said.

“He was seven years old sparring 10-year-old kids who were much more advanced than him, it wasn’t seeing him punch, it was watching him see the punches coming and evading them all, that was when I thought this kid has a good eye.”

Huni will use that natural evasion when he fights Paul Gallen next Wednesday at Sydney’s International Convention Centre, defending his Australian heavyweight title before he heads to Tokyo seeking the nation’s first boxing gold medal.

But as well as avoiding blows, Huni (4-0, 3KO) plans to deliver plenty himself.

And with Gallen (11-0-1, 6KO) preparing a game plan to storm in close to nullify Huni’s reach, the champion made a stark revelation.

Paul Gallen and Justis Huni will square off in Sydney next Wednesday night. Picture: NCA/Newswire/Nikki ShortSource:News Corp Australia

“I can switch it up, I feel comfortable boxing on the inside as well,” Huni said. “Personally, I feel more comfortable fighting on the inside, so it’s going to be good to watch on June 16.

“They’re used to fighting on the inside, and used to fighting guys who stay long. Maybe if I switch it up and go fight on the inside, go to the trenches, go to war, he might not like that.

“I have been working on it in sparring, having more aggression, bringing that killer instinct.

“I’ll be bringing that into this fight, and every fight in the future.

“Because everyone is talking about ‘He doesn’t have knockout power’. Honestly, I haven’t needed it, my boxing has been able to win fights. But to get to the next level, you’ve got to have that switch where you can flick your killer instinct on.”

Originally published asBoxing promoters filthy after Huni no-show

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