Justis Huni may be considered Australia’s best chance at delivering a world heavyweight champion but he’s under no illusions as to who will be putting bums on seats in his first pay-per-view fight.
Huni, who won the Australia heavyweight title last year, will be thrust into the bright lights of pay-per-view against NRL great Paul Gallen, who’s has already been a main event drawcard in his own right with fights against the likes of Barry Hall and Lucas Browne.
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But while Gallen has continued to say he’s in the sport to make as much money as he can as quickly as possible, Huni is in for the long haul with ambitions of Olympic glory, followed by a run at the world titles.
It’s why Huni and his team have reportedly agreed to hand the former NRL star 85 per cent of the money from their June 16 fight at the ICC Exhibition Centre in Sydney.
Huni’s father and trainer Rockie told The Sydney Morning Herald that it was “never about the money”.
“We are getting Justis’ name out there and what better platform than being involved in a Main Event with probably the most hated person in Queensland,” Rockie said.
“We have been to a few football functions this week and I can’t believe that one person generates that much hate. It’s crazy.”
Huni’s promoter Dean Lonergan added that Gallen was getting “the best deal of his life”.
“He’s negotiated hard. The problem with Gallen is that not only does he want his slice of the pie and your slice, he also wants his neighbour’s slice of the pie, Justis Huni’s slice and any pie that’s in the street,” Lonergan said.
It comes after Gallen demanded Lonergan “sharpen your pencil” during negotiations.
“Dean, sharpen your pencil mate. You want me in the ring with him, sharpen your pencil — it’s nowhere near what I will accept for the fight. You need to fix it up,” he said at the time.
“You want it to happen, make it happen. Sharpen the pencil, ring me back – you’ve got my number.
“If you didn’t hear it from me, it’s not really happening.”
Since then, Gallen was left fuming over a promotional poster that sold the fight as “Termination Day” with Huni depicted as the Terminator and Gallen in black and white in the background.
The ex-Sharks captain said he was prepared to “cancel” the fight over the issue, despite an expected $1.5m windfall.
“I can guarantee you this is not the poster we will be using for the fight, it’s ridiculous,” Gallen said.
“He’s trying to pump his client but this bloke does not need a leg up every single time. When I first saw it I thought, ‘I don’t care’. But Dean Lonergan has been so difficult to deal with every step of the way, I’m going to dig my heels in and make him change it.
“Why can’t he just be an adult and keep his word? He’s being childish.”
While Gallen has admitted he’s not in boxing for the prestige, a win could put him on the world stage, with Lonergan reportedly talking with International Boxing Federation authorities to have the bout sanctioned, meaning the winner would be thrust into the IBF world rankings.
“I’m currently negotiating with the IBF to make the Gallen-Huni fight for a regional title,” Lonergan said.
“What that means is that the winner of this fight will go into the top 15 in the world.
“And once Justis or Gallen are in the top 15, they could fight any one of the world champions in the heavyweight division, so this fight is a massive deal.
“I have been talking to the IBF for the past week and the chairman is seriously considering it.
“If Gallen beats Justis Huni, he would become world-ranked which would be phenomenal for a guy who was a rugby league player.”
For Huni, the fight will come just three weeks after his next scheduled bout on May 26 against Christian Tsoye.
But he’s not worried about the quick turnaround, as it will put him in good stead for an Olympic charge, as he looks to bring home Australia’s sixth boxing medal — hopefully the first gold — and first since 1988.
Huni said that while Gallen found success on the football field before his boxing switch, the 22-year-old has grown up in the squared circle.
“You can have up to five or six fights and that’s different styles so having these fights close to each other is pretty much like the Olympics,” Huni told Fox Sports News. “Quick turnaround and being able adapt to different styles.
“I’ve got three weeks after the Gallen fight before we head off so that’s plenty of time if I do get any injuries, which I won’t.”