Former rugby league star Paul Gallen has agreed to trade punches with Australia’s hottest heavyweight prospect, just a few months after his sensational knockout win over Lucas Browne.
The 39-year-old, who captained Cronulla Sutherland Sharks as they won the NRL Premiership title in 2016, produced a stunning upset by stopping former WBA champion Browne in April.
But Gallen is taking a sizeable step-up in class after finalising a fight against Justis Huni, a highly touted 22-year-old who is being tipped to win gold at the Tokyo Olympics this summer.
Promoter Dean Lonergan told Sky Sports: “I went to the fight in Wollongong two weeks ago, expecting Browne at the very least to go six rounds, which is what it was scheduled for.
“I walked away from that fight shocked and stunned and couldn’t believe my eyes after Gallen knocked him out in one round.
“That night I couldn’t believe what I saw. In the morning I woke up and thought, ‘Well, it presents us with an opportunity.'”
Huni made an early entry to the pro ranks, claiming the Australian heavyweight title on his debut by stopping Faiga Opelu and has followed up with two more knockouts.
But Gallen is yet to suffer a defeat in 12 bouts, including six stoppage victories, and Lonergan is expecting an explosive showdown.
“He [Gallen] hits pretty hard,” said Lonergan. “He’s incredibly tenacious and he’s got absolute balls of steel to want to get in the ring with one of the best credentialed amateur heavyweights in the world. A guy who might be favoured to win a gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics.
“I don’t expect Paul Gallen to fight, I expect him to brawl. He’s up against technically one of the best boxers on the planet at heavyweight right now in the amateur ranks. He’s a heavyweight who fights and moves like a middleweight.
“Gallen is going to have to engage if he wants to win. I think it’s going to be a tough fight, but it’s a good fight for Justis.”
Huni will firstly face Christian Ndzie Tsoye on May 26, an opportunity for him to prime his knockout power before a high-profile showdown with Gallen in Sydney on June 16.
“In my opinion, Justis is one of the world’s most exciting heavyweight prospects. There’s no doubt about that,” said Lonergan.
“At amateur level, if you have a look at Justis’ achievements from State titles to Golden Gloves to National titles to international fights, this guy doesn’t just go to compete, he wins gold all the way through.
“He’s an unbelievable athlete and we can’t wait to unleash him on the world stage.
“The Olympics will obviously help us do that, but Paul Gallen is our meat on the table at the moment and I’m going to feed him to my beast.”