An Olympic gold medal, then a heavyweight title; Justis Huni has set the bar pretty high as he prepares to take some giant leaps in his boxing career.
The 21-year-old from Brisbane won a bronze medal as an amateur at the world championships last year and wants to upgrade that to gold at the Tokyo Olympics, should they be held next year amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Before that, he will make his professional debut in an audacious bid for the Australian heavyweight championship when he faces Django Opelu (13-1) in Fortitude Valley on October 22. It is believed to be the first time a fighter has challenged for the domestic heavyweight crown in their first professional bout.
That speaks volumes about how highly boxing insiders rate Huni's potential. He has just been signed by Dean Lonergan's D&L Events, which helped Jeff Horn to a world title. Lonergan is convinced Huni is a genuine world-level prospect.
"This is going to be one of the most exciting times we've ever seen in Australian boxing. It will take a while but you will want to be watching this space," Lonergan said.
Huni has the right pedigree; his dad is called Rocky. He played rugby league as a kid at Souths Sunnybank, the same club that produced Johnathan Thurston, before making a move to boxing when he was eight.
I still have to get it through my head, it's something special.Justis Huni
Now Huni is about to try and establish himself in the highest-profile division in the sport, all while being tagged as one of the brightest heavy prospects the nation has seen.
"I still have to get it through my head, it's something special. I don't want any easy fights so it's the perfect opponent for me," Huni said.
"I'm ready to do my part, hopefully it will carry us to a world title shot. It's been my dream. If they can get me there, I'll be over the moon."
Huni won't be the main attraction on the card at the Fortitude Music Hall clash, which will be live on Fox. That falls to rising cruiserweight Jai Opetaia, who has a rematch with Ben Kelleher. Opetaia beat him in 2018 but Kelleher suffered a hand injury in the bout.
Opetaia wants to fight for an IBF cruiserweight title next year before a likely move up to heavyweight, which could eventually pit him against stablemate Huni should things go to plan.
The Central Coast-based Opetaia is a 19-0 southpaw who has relocated to Queensland in the short term to allow him to finally get back in the ring. His last fight was a win over Mark Flanagan in November of 2019.