Justis Huni has been branded an unproven “hype job” and his team accused of preventing latest opponent, tough New Zealander Kiki Leutele, from providing for his young family for over a year.
Among Australia’s most exciting fight prospects, an undefeated Huni is set to throw down against Leutele in Brisbane on November 4.
While the Queensland heavyweight has made a stack of headlines since turning pro, Team Leutele remains “pissed off” with the rising star who they are now promising to knock out if he actually shows for their headliner.
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Speaking with foxsports.com.au, Leutele’s trainer Isaac Peach says Team Huni have cruelled his fighter, a father-of-three, after signing a bout agreement that has since taken “over a year” to eventualise.
Aged 28, Leutele has lost only once in 11 professional fights — a controversial decision defeat at the hands of another rising Aussie star, Demsey McKean, in May last year.
The New Zealand puncher was initially slated to fight Huni on the same July card where Jai Opetaia courageously won the IBF cruiserweight title from Mairis Briedis – but suggestions of injury and Covid meant the showdown never occurred.
Yet Peach questioned the delays given Huni faced Australian Joe Goodall in June and, after that, had his team sounding out Briedis for a potential move to heavyweight.
The trainer accused promoter Dean Lonergan and Huni’s father Rocki of leaving Leutele – who he insists is ready to knock out the undefeated Brisbane fighter — in a “terrible” financial situation.
“We’re pissed off. It’s been a nightmare,” the Auckland trainer said.
“We’ve had our contract signed for over a year.
“But they’ve been off trying to get Briedis ahead of us. And after fighting Goodall.
“Kiki hasn’t been able to properly feed his family for a year.
“He lives in Napier, I’m in Auckland. It’s a flight of over an hour just to get here.
“So Kiki has been staying at my house and training for a fight that hasn’t come.
“Financially, it’s been terrible.
“But now we are just getting ready to do a job. Kiki is ready to knock him out.”
Pushed on the situation, Leutele added: “It’s been really frustrating.
“I was supposed to be the first person Huni fought this year, but it never happened.
“They’ve just kept pushing things back, pushing them back.
“Hopefully they stick to it now because I’ve got three kids I’m trying to put food on the table for.
“But I don’t know.”
While Huni is undefeated in all six fights as a professional, his inability to knock opponents out has seen Peach question exactly what the Aussie will bring for the November headliner.
In the past week, Huni has jetted into Los Angeles to work alongside countryman Justin Fortune — convinced the man who once trained Mike Tyson can also bring added power to his own punching game.
“But Justis has a lot of pressure on him,” Peach said.
“He hasn’t knocked anyone out. Hasn’t done much of anything.
“He’s a hype job at the moment.”
Both Peach and Leutele then urged the Aussie to stand and trade in their November headliner, with the Kiwi convinced his record of never being stopped will stay intact.
“While I really like Justis as a fighter, he really needs to prove he can punch by putting Kiki to sleep,” the trainer said.
“He needs to stand there and find out.
“Nobody wants to see a fighter run around avoiding.
“So we’re coming to hurt him and expect the same in return.
“And that’s what Justis needs to sort out. Is he a pro? Does he want to trade big shots?
“Because at some point in his career he will have to … so he may as well start practising now.”
Pushed on Huni, the trainer continued: “He can box, and has world class skills.
“But the one thing everyone is saying is that he lacks power.
“At heavyweight, people want to see knockouts.
“But he’s failed to do that.
“His first fights were rubbish, the fight against Paul Gallen was rubbish and the fight with Goodell was awful. And I don’t think anyone would disagree with me.
“I actually think this is Justis Huni’s first real fight.”