Boxing: Kiwi heavyweight Junior Fa primed for world title run in 2020

Kiwi heavyweight Junior Fa
Kiwi heavyweight Junior Fa Photo credit: Photosport

New Zealand heavyweight boxer Junior Fa is eyeing a bumper 2020 in his bid to become a world champion. 

The undefeated slugger faces his toughest challenge as a professional later this month, when he meets former Olympic boxer American Devin Vargas in Utah. 

Vargas was knocked out in the first round of his last bout against current WBA, IBF and WBO heavyweight kingpin Andy Ruiz Jr.

The American started his career with 17 straight wins, but has lost five of his last eight to fall to 20-5 as a professional.

But he represents a quality boxing test for the Kiwi, after sharing the ring with contenders Kevin Johnson, Dominic Breazeale and Andrzej Wawrzyk, as well as Ruiz. 

Fa is motivated by the challenge, as he tries to establish himself as a genuine top-10 fighter in the next 12 months.

"It's exciting," Fa told Newshub. "It feels like a long time since I got in the ring, but that has given me a chance to sort of destress and take a bit of time off.

"This is a great style match-up for me. Devon kind of likes to let his hands go and he moves well, so this is actually an opportunity to show a different side of my style.

"Usually, I'm happy fighting from the back foot, but I think Devon will force me to be more aggressive and more front-footed, which is something I need to develop at this point of my career.

"It's a natural progression for a fighter like me. I'm calm and cool in my fighting style, and I'm always going to be a sensible boxer, but being forced to fight in a different style is great for my development."

Fa's last fight was back in June, when he topped experienced American Dominick Guinn by a decision - a fight that saw Fa on the canvas for the first time in his three-year professional career. 

But the 30-year-old recovered well from the early setback to dominate the final eight rounds and score his 18th win from 18 fights.

"It was great to get through something like that, especially at this point of my career, as I step in with higher quality opponents," Fa said.

"It's good to know that I can face that kind of adversity, and come through the other side and dominate. 

"The best thing for me was how calm my mind remained during those 2-3 minutes, after I was dropped.

"I didn't panic - I went straight into my natural instincts of taking my time and fighting behind my jab, and waiting out the pressure."

The composure Fa showed in California stems from his training. The power puncher is a member of the now-famed City Kickboxing gym in Auckland.

Under the expert eye of head coaches Eugene Bareman and Doug Viney, 'CKB' has produced New Zealand's first UFC champion in Israel Adesanya, as well as top-10 ranked contenders Kai Kara France and Dan 'Hangman' Hooker, and Australian featherweight Alexander Volkanovski.

Fellow heavyweight boxing prospect Hemi Ahio, who fights on the undercard on November 16, is another City Kickboxing recruit. 

"I know for sure, after spending a lot of time at high-level gyms around the world, that I am in the right place at City Kickboxing," Fa noted. "That is an elite gym - worldwide. 

"Knowing that, having that confidence that I'm training at the right place it, I know I can make it, as long as I don't stop myself - I'm the only person that can get in my way.

"It's stacked with world-class fighters and world-class coaches. 

"When you go there to train, you have to be at the top of your game every morning. If not, you will be forced to, because everyone else is at that level. 

"They lift you up - guys like Dan and Kai and Izzy, they make you better. I learn every day, be it a skill, technique or attitude shift. "

And in a sport where one punch can change a career path, Junior Fa could be destined to join Adesanya on CKB's wall of champions.



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