Jeff Horn reckons Justis Huni proved he's one of the world's best heavyweight boxers after the undefeated Australian punched through pain to beat plucky New Zealand challenger Kiki Leutele.
The Brisbane talent overcame a brutal first four rounds, uncharacteristically remaining in close to trade punches as if to prove a point against a man who had signalled his intentions for an early knockout.
The former world amateur championship bronze medallist eventually tweaked his strategy, moving to the outside to pick apart Leutele for a unanimous points victory over 10 impressive rounds to move to 7-0.
He battled pain in his right hand for the final five rounds though, Huni's camp hopeful there's no recurrence of the boxer's knuckle he inflamed against Paul Gallen that forced him out of the Tokyo Olympics.
"One hundred per cent he's one of the best heavyweight boxers out there at the moment and can mix it with the best," former world champion Horn said.
"Everyone's kind of saying the question is his power, but it was hard for him to put anything behind that punch (because of the injury).
"It's so tough to do; you know it's hurting but you have to keep throwing them otherwise the other guy will know you're hurt."
High-profile trainer Justin Fortune discharged himself from hospital on Friday after complaining of a high heart rate, adamant he needed to be ringside after flying from his United States base for the fight.
"He's been an amateur since he was 10 so it's taking time to turn his shots over all the time; you can't rush it," he said of Huni's attempts to add more power to his punches.
"But if things go wrong he can change the game mid-stream which is very difficult to do."
Huni had hoped to fight again this year and had a match-up pencilled in against three-time cruiserweight world champion Mairis Briedis for early next year.
Wins in those would likely earn the 23-year-old a world ranking and edge him closer to a world title shot.
"We've got to see if the hand's okay," Huni's promoter Dean Lonergan said.
"You've got to come through these affairs uninjured."
But Lonergan, who oversaw Horn's famous win over Manny Pacquiao and took New Zealand heavyweight Joseph Parker to the WBO world title belt, left Nissan Arena on Friday confident Huni had taken strides forward.
"That was the toughest fight he's had to date," he said.
"The game plan changed after round four ... when he got on his bike he was sticking and moving and impossible to hit.
"Justis's skills came to the fore, it was a stunning effort and again with an injured hand.
"Kiki came to fight; was fit and throwing leather, no clinching ... his stocks have gone up tremendously."