How Aussie heavyweight rising star Justis Huni won over one of the world’s most respected boxing trainers during torrid sparring sessions in tough Los Angeles gym
World-renowned boxing trainer Justin Fortune famously almost rejected Solomon Haumono for being ‘too gentle’ and knows what it takes to be the best in the world.
Now, Fortune has taken Aussie heavyweight rising star Justis Huni under his wing and is already giving him the tools to rise to the top.
And the 23-year-old has been dubbed by the champion Aussie coach as one of the most exciting heavyweight talents, after getting to know the Queenslander in an American gym.
Justis Huni (R) fires a right hand punch at Kiki Leutele during their heavyweight bout on Friday night
Huni and his father Rocki flew out in December last year to spend five weeks with Fortune, who was Manny Pacquiao’s right hand man for two decades.
The Aussie no.1 heavyweight ground his way to victory against Leutele in a unanimous decision, which he credited to his recent stint in West Hollywood.
Fortune spent his time moulding Huni into a ‘Iron Mike’ like boxer, where sparring sessions got so intense, the Aussie cracked a few ribs.
Huni (R) with boxing strength and conditioning coach Justin Fortune (L) before the Aussie heavyweight’s seventh career bout on Friday
The 56-year-old strength and conditioning coach linked Huni with legendary trainer Freddy Roach, who worked with Miguel Cotto, James Toney and Mike Tyson.
Fortune recently spent two nights in the Brisbane hospital with heart issues, but raced from his hospital bed at the last minute to be in Huni’s corner.
According to Fortune, his heart was jumping at a 180-beat-per-minute rate, but he was not missing Huni’s bout.
‘I’m feeling like s***, got this cough I can’t shake until I get the heart redone, but that’s how it is,’ he told AAP.
‘I flew 15 hours to be here, was in camp for weeks [in Los Angeles], no way was I f***ing missing it.
I had to be here, in the ring, after our first real camp. Everything I see here now can have 10 times the impact [to improve Huni] in training.’
Fortune (L) poses with legendary boxer Manny ‘Pacman’ Pacquiao at the renown Fortune Gym in Los Angeles
Huni says his power increased remarkably under the wing of Fortune, who helped steer Pacquiao to world titles in eight different weight classes.
The six-foot-four 110kg powerhouse was preparing for a seven fight campaign in 2022, but was hampered by an injury when breaking his hand against rugby league hard-hitter Paul Gallen in June last year.
It is believed Huni suffered the same injury in last night’s triumph, where he claimed the IBF Pan Pacific Oriental and Pacific Boxing Federation WBO Oriental titles.