Justis Huni will make his return from hand surgery against fellow undefeated heavyweight Joseph Goodall in a bout that is set to fast-track the winner into the top 15 of two major sanctioning organisations.
Huni hasn’t fought since damaging his hand in his stoppage victory over Paul Gallen, an injury that forced him to sit out the Tokyo Olympics and stalled his climb through the professional ranks.
However, his comeback to the ring will be confirmed on Thursday as he lines up a date with the unbeaten Goodall on February 4 in Brisbane.
Camera IconJustis Huni is back after a long injury absence. Credit: News Corp Australia
As long as things go to plan, it will be the first of seven fights Huni has planned for next year as his camp set the ambitious goal of remaining undefeated and finishing 2022 in the top five in the world.
“Yeah, man, I am back,” Huni said.
“My hand is good to go. I am having my first spar back on Saturday. It has been 12 weeks now (since surgery) and I am excited to get back into the groove of things.
“The hand feels normal, nothing wrong with it. So I am keen to go again. Words can’t describe how much I can’t wait to get back in the ring.
“It has been way too long. The lead-up to a big fight, there is no other thing like it. That is what I miss.”
Goodall won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and is now based in Las Vegas, where he works with Kevin Barry.
Camera IconJoseph Goodall is unbeaten in seven professional fight. Credit: News Corp Australia
Barry is one of the most respected trainers in the world, having guided the careers of fellow New Zealanders David Tua and Joseph Parker.
“This is a fight where somebody’s ‘0’ has got to go,” Huni’s promoter Dean Lonergan said.
“Joe Goodall is undefeated as a professional, as is Justis Huni. What is super significant is that the IBF have put up the Pan-Pacific regional belt and the WBO have put up the oriental regional belt.
“What is significant about that is the winner of this fight – and it is very, very rare that this happens – the winner will go into the top 15 in both organisations.
“The key to this game is to get yourself a regional belt and defend it, defend it, defend it. There is no voodoo to this. As soon as you are top 15 you are eligible to fight for a world title.
“If we fight seven times next year, which is what we want to do, I would be very surprised if we weren’t close to top five at the end of next year.
“Australia is about to go on a sporting journey it has never experienced before because at the end of the day we’re trying to fight some of the most famous men in the world, and that is for enormous amounts of money.”
Camera IconHuni hasn’t fought since beating Paul Gallen. Credit: News Corp Australia
Huni has vowed to leave no stone unturned as he begins his preparations for Goodall – he insists he will train religiously from now until February, including Christmas Day.
Huni knows he can ill-afford to take Goodall lightly. While the pair never opposed each other in the ring as amateurs, Huni is well aware of Goodall’s career and his capabilities.
The result of their February fight has the potential to be life-changing for the winner.
“It is going to be a big fight,” Huni said.
“We missed each other in the amateurs. While I was coming up – I think I was 15 – that was when he was starting to peak in the amateurs.
“That is what makes this fight so much more exciting – we both have very good amateur backgrounds. Joe is a good boxer, but respectfully I believe I am a better boxer and I have what it takes to beat him.
“There is a lot on the line in this fight. I have just started camp. I have had my time off when I went though the operation my hand and the recovery and hopefully everything will go well next year.”