The father and trainer of Olympic heavyweight hopeful Justis Huni says his son would “eat up” Sonny-Bill Williams but that Paul Gallen will be the first and last footballer his boy faces.
Speaking to Wide World of Sports ahead of Huni’s June 16 fight against the former NRL player in Sydney, Rocki Huni admitted he would be “tempted” by a lucrative bout against Williams which would capture sports fans’ attention in New Zealand and Australia, yet fighting the best “boxers” Down Under when the 22-year-old gets back from the Tokyo Olympics is Team Huni’s priority.
“We’re not looking past Gallen but Dean (Lonergan, promoter) proposed that we fight either Barry Hall or Sonny Bill,” Huni Snr said.
“I said ‘no, we’re just not interested in fighting footballers after this fight.’ We prefer to fight a boxer that’s out there guys like Junior Fa, Dempsey McKean, Willis Meehan you know – boxers.”
While Huni has experienced a huge bump in popularity due to his upcoming bout with the former NSW captain, there are some drawbacks. Most people will point to the biggest payday in Huni’s career as proof fighting a former footballer pays off, but Rocki Huni claims it hasn’t been smooth sailing since his son agreed to the fight.
“We’re copping a lot of flack already fighting Gallen,” he said. “We just want to get back to what we do and that’s boxing. What Gallen has done for Justis’ profile is unbelievable.
“We would not be here without this fight. We’re not taking anything away from Gallen but at what stage do you pull that up?
“People are saying ‘he’s just a footballer why are you wasting your time? He’s (Justis) been boxing since he was seven-years old, why are you taking this easy route fighting a footballer,’ but a lot of guys out there are armchair experts and don’t understand that Gallen is a natural boxer.
“He’s probably the second best heavyweight in the country but these guys don’t see it like that. A lot of it has to do with envy.”
Huni is coming off a unanimous decision win over Cameroon’s Christian Tsoye over 10 rounds, with two judges awarding Huni the fight 99-91, while the third gave him a 98-92 victory. He will take on Gallen in a couple of weeks before preparing for the Olympics in late July.
Gallen blasts ‘disrespectful’ Huni
If he comes back with a medal around his neck then his marketability would peak, giving Team Huni a chance to make some real money and be the star of the show. A fight with former NRL and All Blacks star Williams would be a huge cash-spinner but there would be no surprises as to who would come out on top according to Huni.
“Gallen is above Sonny-Bill Williams, he’s above (Barry) Hall,” he said. “I think everyone would know what the outcome would be. No disrespect to Sonny Bill but my boy will eat him up. I don’t care how much training he does from now onwards, there’s levels to this game.
“Give him props, he’s a great athlete, but it’s boxing. If we were to try and play football against these guys they would run all over us and they probably expect us to do the same when they jump in the ring.
“You just don’t know, you take things as they come, but for me and my son we want to fight the best in Australia. How can we challenge the world if we can’t beat guys in our own backyard?”
As for fighters on the world stage, Rocki Huni believes his son isn’t far away from taking on household names on the international scene. When asked if he had a fighter in mind that Justis may toss up in the future, he said: “(Derek) Chisora is a guy that works hard, moves forward and fights a bit like Gallen.
“He throws a lot of punches. I would love my boy to be tested against someone like that. I think he’s definitely the gate-keeper into the heavyweight division overseas.
“Justis is probably five fights off that. We’ve still got a lot we’ve been working on and we need to get those things right first.”
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