Aussie heavyweight boxing prodigy Justis Huni has booked in his next fight and it’s already shaping as a spicy encounter when he faces New Zealand’s Kiki Toa Leutele on November 4 at Nissan Arena in Brisbane.
Set to return to the location where he claimed his 10-round unanimous decision win over Joe Goodall in June, the 23-year-old is finally set to throw gloves with Leutele after their May clash was cancelled.
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Originally scheduled to face Leutele as the co-main event on Jai Opetaia’s IBF cruiserweight title fight against Mairis Briedis, the fight was thrown through a loop when injuries and Covid wreaked havoc with the bout.
But instead of fighting Leutele, Huni fought Goodall while the New Zealander and his team have been plotting the downfall of the Aussie golden boy.
Leutele holds a professional record of eight wins, including seven KOs, one loss and two draws – his only loss coming at the hands of WBO and IBF ranked Aussie Demsey McKean in a controversial points decision.
Leutele said although he’s only fought once this year – a second round TKO win over Lui Te’o – he said he’d been training hard for the Huni fight with a laser-like focus.
“It was good because this whole year they’ve been putting it off and it’s been frustrating, getting the ball going for the training,” Leutele told news.com.au. “It’s good that it’s all come together.”
But the delay has proved to be motivating for Leutele and his team, claiming disrespect from the Huni camp, after reports emerged Huni was set to take on Briedis in his first fight moving up to heavyweight on October 29. However, it appears this is now likely shaping for early 2023.
For Leutele’s trainer Isaac Peach of Peach Boxing, the whole drama is just fuelling the upset.
“We were meant to fight them when Goodall fought, they went and got Goodall and left Kiki sitting here with no fight, no money,” Peach said.
“They’ve gone and done it again and gone after Briedis and the only reason they’re not fighting him is because Briedis doesn’t want it.
“But it’s disrespectful to have treated us like s**t and we’re just going to knock him out.
“We were meant to fight when Goodall fought, there was no injury, no nothing. They went and took Goodall and left Kiki sitting here with a signed contract and no fight. Disgusting. If we were millionaires, we’d sue them.
“Whatever they talk is just s**t, we’ve been meant to fight a year and then they advertised Briedis to fight on October 29th so they were going to do exactly the same to us again.
“Now Briedis doesn’t want it, we’ve got a chance. So we’re going to take our chance. Karma comes along in life, treat people like s**t and it comes back to burn you and that’s what’s going to happen in this fight.”
Something Huni definitely needs to watch out for in Leutele is the lesson from the last time the New Zealander fought in Australia.
Taking on now-world ranked McKean, Leutele suffered the only loss of his career to date, a unanimous points decision (98-92×2, 97-93) loss in a 10-rounder in May 2021.
Leutele believes he won the fight, having left McKean stunned in the fight and said the Aussie didn’t land any significant strikes.
But when asked about what he took from the fight, Leutele said: “You’ve got to knock them out over there or else you won’t get the decision.”
Peach said he’s got a much better Kiki Toa Leutele for this fight.
“Justis Huni doesn’t care about Kiki Toa. Kiki Toa hasn’t been talked about in the last year. We’ve only got one focus and that’s Justis Huni,” Peach said.
“Justis isn’t thinking like we are. Justis isn’t hungry like we are. Justis is thinking about a world title – six fights against nobody and they’re talking about world titles. (Huni’s promoter) Dean Lonergan needs his head read. He’s a dreamer. He’s got the boringest, quietest heavyweight in boxing history that isn’t even punching hard and he’s talking that s**t.
“We got nothing man, we’ve from humble New Zealand. We’re not in LA or wherever the hell he is. We’re here in the rain and the cold and we’re working hard and we’re gonna come, it’s gonna be a Rocky story and we’re gonna knock him out.
“We’re going to show that people that come from nothing can be something. They’ve had it all, they’ve always had it all. We got nothing. And that’s what we love. That’s our motivation, that’s our drive. Kiki’s got three beautiful kids. He’s got more drive than anything.”
Huni, who spoke to news.com.au from Los Angeles where he’s returned to work with the legendary trainer of Manny Pacquiao in Justin Fortune, is set to spar with the likes of WBO, IBF and WBC ranked heavyweight star Frank Sanchez in the coming days on a month-long training camp.
But while Leutele’s team would like to paint a picture that Huni’s got everything to lose and they’ve got everything to gain, the Aussie claimed he had plenty to fight for.
“I’ve also got a lot to gain too, this is not just a fight,” Huni said.
“Every fight is strategic to get me to that world title fight. He’s fought who they say is the best in Australia, Demsey McKean, he’s fought him and apparently he believes he won that fight and a lot of people think he won that fight so it makes sense.
“If I clean Kiki up easy, then it just shows that there are levels. It’ll be a good test to see where I’m at.
“There’s always something to lose. I’ve got a lot to lose but I’ve also got a lot to gain from this fight. Every fight is a step closer to where I want to be. They can say what they want to say, they’ve literally just been saying the same thing as every other opponent I’ve had.”
It’s been a rocky year in 2022 for Huni, who had originally planned to fight seven times this year but has yet fought just the once against Goodall after bouts of Covid and injury derailed his plans.
Hoping to fit a third fight in before the end of the year after tangling with Leutele, Huni said he’s planning to get straight back into training after the November 4 clash.
Coming up against yet another big puncher in Leutele, Huni brushed off the criticism which has followed his career thus far that he hasn’t been able to land the knockout blow.
“They say they have the one punch power that I’m lacking, that’s nothing new,” Huni said.
“That’s everyone’s favourite line. I don’t even respond to it anymore. Everyone knows how the last guys have ended up.
“Pretty much all I have to refer to is the current world champion in (Oleksandr) Usyk, who’s just gone the distance two times against one of the heaviest punchers in the heavyweights in the world in Anthony Joshua. I just shows, skills pay the bills. That’s what it’s all about. Everyone wants to talk about their knockout power and stuff but you’ve got to be able to land that knockout power to have it.
“I just talk about the wins. The wins is what’s going to get you to the world title shot. That’s pretty much all I’m trying to do, make it to the world title shot and hopefully bring a world title shot back to Australia, that’s the dream man. Whether I get it in knockout or go the distance, it doesn’t really bother me, as long as I’m getting those wins.”