Justis Huni's Olympic Games dream has been shattered.
Two hand injuries will rob Huni of the chance to chase super heavyweight boxing gold at the Tokyo Olympics next month as he prepares to undergo surgery "ASAP on both hands".
The 22-year-old is understood to have suffered a sagittal band tear on his right hand, commonly known in the fight game as "boxer's knuckle", during sparring in the lead up to a fight with Christian Tsoye last month.
Huni reaggravated the injury in the opening round of his subsequent ANBF Australian heavyweight title defence against Paul Gallen on June 16.
He was already nursing a left hand injury which was to be operated on after the Games. Huni's right hand requires surgery and a three to five month recovery period.
It is a devastating blow for the man widely regarded as Australia's best chance to snap a boxing medal drought which dates back to Grahame Cheney's light welterweight silver in 1988.
Huni's promoter Dean Lonergan has defended the decision to fight so often on the road to Tokyo, with the rising heavyweight prospect racking up a 5-0 professional record to date.
"The reason he turned pro is because he couldn't get any amateur fights," Lonergan said.
"The death of anyone in any sport is inactivity. The decision was made to turn pro to get fights. He has come out and done what he has done, and we're very happy with his progression.
"But shit happens, it is what it is. You take risks either way. If he had have gone in fully under prepared and under fought, and got knocked out in the first or second round, people would be going 'what's this about?'
"You could get injured in training, you could get injured in sparring, you could get injured in fights, it's the way it goes."
Needless to say Huni is gutted. A dream he has been chasing since he was seven years old has gone up in smoke.
"It is with a heavy heart that I announce that my dream of representing Australia at the Olympics this year has been shattered," Huni said.
"Both my hands had been injured during a sparring session leading up to the Tsoye fight. I had to have injections into my thumb knowing that surgery would be required after the Olympics to fix it properly.
"In the Gallen fight, however, I aggravated both hands in the first round and my team sent me straight for an MRI after the fight which confirmed out worst fears, that I require an operation ASAP on both hands.
"I am truly [gutted] ... but know that I will be back bigger and stronger."
Lonergan will look into the rules and regulations to see if there is any hope of Huni featuring at the 2024 Olympics in Paris, but by that stage he envisions the Queenslander in the world title picture.
"We were sparring a guy called Semisi Kalu who we brought over from New Zealand. Justis beat the f--k out of him in the first one or two sessions and he couldn't take any more head shots," Lonergan said.
"Because Justis wasn't going to Semisi's head, he dropped his elbows and was covering his stomach the whole time. Justis has unloaded hard on one of his elbows, and that's where the injury occurred.
"What my understanding is, we might need an operation on it, and if we have to get it before the Olympics then so be it."
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