Huni takes next step on heavyweight path

Justis Huni (pic) will be ranked among the top 15 WBO and IBF heavyweights if he beats Joe Goodall.
Justis Huni (pic) will be ranked among the top 15 WBO and IBF heavyweights if he beats Joe Goodall.

Justis Huni and Joe Goodall have completed hundreds of rounds in the ring but the only time it will matter will be next February when the heavyweights do battle in Brisbane.

Australia's two best big men will square off in a high-stakes showdown with the winner set to be propelled into the top 15 of the IBF and WBO.

It will be Huni's first fight since his Olympic medal dream was left in tatters due to a hand injury that required surgery following his win over ex-NRL star Paul Gallen last June.

The 22-year-old will only resume sparring this weekend but says he will be ready for the biggest fight of his career and stepping stone to the big time.

"This is a big fight for my career to move me up into the top 15 in two of the sanctioning bodies so I'm going to be 100 per cent ready for this as it can take me all the way in my career," Huni said at a joint press conference on Thursday.

"This is the first step toward heading to a world title shot so definitely a big fight and I can't wait for it."

Goodall won a silver medal at the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow and is now based in Las Vegas, where he works with renowned trainer Kevin Barry.

His last fight was in March against Samoan Herman Ene-Purcell where he won the vacant WBC Australasia heavyweight title.

Seven years Huni's senior, the pair know each other's style well.

"We've sparred hundreds of rounds when he was an amateur and I was professional," said Goodall, whose record is 7-0-1.

"I kind of knew ever since he turned pro we were probably going to be on a collision course.

"There's no second place in boxing, you've got to find out who's the best."

Barry said Goodall had made rapid improvement since his arrival in the US almost five months ago.

"When he arrived there were a lot of things about his game that weren't really working properly for him," said Barry, who trained former Kiwi world champion Joseph Parker.

"He's developed better balance now which has given him positioning to throw a lot more powerful punches and his jab is a lot better.

"People who watched Joe fight earlier this year will see a much more developed, much more controlled fighter on February 4."

That suits Huni (5-0) just fine.

"Coming into the pros, I always wanted to challenge myself - we didn't want like any easy fights," he said.

"We always wanted to challenge ourselves and that's why we came for my pro debut going for the Australian title."

Huni's father and trainer Rocki said they "wanted the best version" of Goodall.

"We just think this is a great opportunity for the two best heavyweights in Australia to make a name for themselves," Rocki said.

"I don't believe we can go out internationally when we haven't beaten the best here in Australia and that's our whole aim."

Australian Associated Press