Ahead of what could be his last ever boxing match tonight, former NRL star Paul Gallen has received enormous praise from a former rival.
If there’s one man who knows what it’s like to be on the other side of Paul Gallen’s antics ahead of a successful boxing match, it’s Justis Huni.
Gallen raised his eyebrows when he did expelled from the pre-fight press conference on Monday, furious with his opponent Kris Terzievski for not doing more to escalate their fight.
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Former NRL star tonight he will face Terzievski in Newcastle for the Australian and Australian heavyweight titles.
If he wins, Gallen will become the first cross-code athlete to win a heavyweight boxing title.
A defeat would likely mean the end of his boxing and sports career, but Huni, who defeated Gallen in an epic match last yearis supporting the 40-year-old to get the win.
“I don’t know much about his opponent Kris, but I know a lot about Gallen, obviously sharing the ring with him,” Huni told news.com.au.
“It’s a tough cookie and it won’t go down without a fight.
“If I knew more about Kris I could give a broader opinion on who will win, but I can only really judge Gallen, because I know Gallen and how tough he is and how much pressure he exerts when he’s there. So I’ll have to support Gal.
“Nothing against Kris, but I’ve been there myself, I’ve played almost 10 rounds with him. He’s just a tough guy. He keeps coming and keeps applying that pressure. It will be a good test for Kris. Hopefully he wins the best and that they both do well and healthy.
When asked what he thought of Gallen’s bold theatricality at the press conference, Huni laughed.
“This is just Gallen,” he said.
“He likes to have a little hype around the fight. We thank him for continuing to promote the sport of boxing. I was in those shoes not long ago sitting across from him. It’s just the way he rolls. “
Gallen is a polarizing figure among some boxing purists and, as we know, the sport is filled with garbage chatter as much as punching. Huni could have thrown some verbal haymakers, but instead he was full of praise for what the former Cronulla Sharks star has achieved in the ring, revealing what many in boxing arguably think deep inside.
“I have nothing but positive things to say about Gallen,” he said.
“I love what he is doing for the sport of boxing and what he has done himself in boxing, especially coming from NRL.
“He did a lot of good for himself and beat a lot of credible opponents. Lucas Browne too, look what he did to him. I think a lot of people were shocked by it.
“Not only is he eye-catching, but he’s obviously done himself well in the ring if he’s fighting for the Australian and Australian heavyweight title.
“You don’t just get there without a fight. He took the hard steps and he deserves credit for getting that opportunity. We hope he can go through with it. “
Huni, who was it forced to retire from the Tokyo Olympics after aggravating a hand injury in the fight against Gallen, he will contest his next bout against Joseph Goodall in June for the vacant IBF Pan Pacific and WBO Oriental heavyweight titles.
Huni promoter Dean Lonergan said there was a chance if Terzievski wins that Huni could try to claim his Australian title.
However, Huni has also been drawn into the conversation to get bigger fights as the bout against Goodall will elevate the winner into the WBO and IBF top 15, meaning they can either fight for the world title or at least get lucrative international attention.
Huni said he was now interested in “bigger and better things” but will always be grateful for the opportunity he had to fight Gallen on a big stage.
“I am very happy to have accepted that bout and to have gotten to try to fight on a Main Event card, which is big enough for someone who has only had five pro fights and was able to do so in front of a big crowd and heavyweight, He said.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity that Gal has provided for myself and continues to do for other boxers.”
Originally published as “People were shocked”: Justis Huni talks about the “hard cookie” Paul Gallen