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Justis Huni may have pocketed some $300,000 for his fight against Paul Gallen and kept his unbeaten record in tact with a commanding TKO victory, but the 22-year-old has emerged as the biggest loser after seeing his Olympic Games dream left in tatters.
A devastated Huni on Wednesday withdrew from the Games after revealing he'd broken his right hand during a sparring session last month, before aggravating the injury during his gruelling 10-round victory over Gallen in Sydney last week.
INTERESTING: Gallen Instagram post reveals truth about Huni fight
Many good judges questioned the wisdom of Huni's decision to take on two fights so close to the start of the Tokyo Games, with the heavyweight also beating Christian Tsoye at the end of May.
Huni has regularly said it's been a dream of his since the age of seven to compete for Australia at the Olympic Games and bring home a gold medal.
However, the decision to use the Gallen fight as an Olympics warm-up and for a massive publicity shot have brutally backfired on the boxer.
Undefeated in his five professional fights and rated a genuine gold-medal hope for Australia, the 22-year-old bravely beat Tsoye with the injury - known as "boxer's knuckle" - two weeks before fighting Gallen.
"I hurt it really early in the Gallen fight and it got worse throughout the fight and I knew it was something bad because I couldn't clench my hand into a knuckle so I knew it was something bad," he said.
He said he contemplated trying to fight through the pain barrier in Tokyo but instead opted to book himself in for surgery next week.
"I'm devastated. Absolutely shattered," Huni said.
"I've pretty much trained my whole life for this moment and it's gone now.
"I'm still in shock, still trying to let it sink in. I got the news last night. I broke down in tears. It was very hard for me to take in."
The Australian heavyweight champion conceded fighting Gallen five weeks out from the Tokyo Games was a gamble.
Huni understood the 'risk'
But he felt he had no other choice, having found it difficult to get the necessary preparation elsewhere.
"It's always a risk getting in the ring. You never know what's going to happen," Huni said.
"But all of it was about trying to prepare me to be the best for the Olympics. It didn't work out that way."
Despite Huni pocketing a reported $300,000 for the fight that saw Gallen take home around $1.5 million, promoter Dean Lonergan defended his fighter over claims it was all about the money.
"At the end of the day, Justis turned professional to make sure he could get fights. Justis couldn't get fights for a very, very long time," Lonergan told AAP.
"It's disappointing but these things happen. You get injured in training, you get injured in fights.
"If you go to the Games undercooked, you've got no hope anyway.
"So it's just unfortunate."
In one of Gallen's pre-fight sprays at Huni, the NRL great threatened to ruin Huni's Olympics dream anyway he could.
Few could have realised at the time how prophetic those claims would end up becoming.
"He kind of jinxed it. My Olympic dream has definitely been ruined," said Huni, now eyeing the Paris Olympics in 2024.
"I feel like I've let the boxing team down and all of Australia but I'm just trying to stay positive and hopefully look forward to the next Olympics now.
"I'll definitely be looking at trying to make that Olympics because it's been a big part of my upbringing to represent my country on that stage."
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