Bloodied Huni too classy in boxing return

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Justis Huni has picked Joe Goodall apart to earn a win, three belts and a place alongside the division's biggest names in his first heavyweight boxing fight in a year.

The former sparring partners finished the 10th and final round at Brisbane's Nissan Arena on Wednesday in a flurry of punches, Huni cut by a head clash and Goodall's left eye all but closed.

But Huni's workrate - he landed 194 punches in total - precision and speed proved too much as he secured an unanimous points decision (100-90, 98-92, 98-93) to move into the top 15 rankings in three of the sport's four sanctioning bodies.

It was the 23-year-old's first fight since beating Paul Gallen last June - a hand injury which cost him a Tokyo Olympics campaign, two bouts of COVID-19 and even a drive-by shooting at his family home last week conspiring to interrupt his rise.

"That's everything and more," Huni said of his comeback bout that netted the WBO Oriental, IBF Pan-Pacific and WBC Australasian belts.

"I was looking for a challenge and he gave me one.

"We were expecting him to come out and push the fight, bring some dirty tactics, but we got there man."

The result improved the Brisbane talent's record to 6-0 while inflicting fellow former amateur world championship medallist Goodall's first professional loss in his ninth fight.

Their pedigree, and Goodall's year-long rejuvenation in the United States in the lead-up, meant the fight was billed as the country's biggest heavyweight battle in more than a century.

And the pair attempted to live up to it, Goodall staying close and countering as Huni went into overdrive with combinations to his former sparring partner's body and head.

Goodall cut Huni's eye in the fourth round but Goodall's left eye was almost closed by the end of the sixth round, Huni throwing combinations usually reserved for boxers 30kg lighter.

A head clash then ensured blood poured in the final two rounds as both men chased a knockout without success, Huni still appearing remarkably fresh when the bell rung.

Huni has been hyped as the country's best heavyweight world title prospect since claiming the national title on debut in 2020.

That momentum had stalled during his year on the sidelines, however he's now conceivably within a few fights of a world title shot.

Earlier in the night, entertaining middleweight Andrei Mikhailovich called out Michael Zerafa after dominating tricky Venezuelan Ernesto Espana.

The Russian-born New Zealander produced a devastating third-round knockout to move to 18-0, inflicting Espana's fourth loss in a 33-fight career that's netted 27 knockouts.

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