Boxing: War of words between Dean Lonergan, Mark Keddell erupts with Justis Huni v Junior Fa fight negotiations at impasse

The blame game is at work between the managers of trans-Tasman heavyweight boxers Junior Fa and Justis Huni.

A bout between the two has been in the works for months and Newshub understands the Fa camp had finally agreed to a fight in May after dates in December and February had been floated by Huni's manager Dean Lonergan. 

But the two sides are now at loggerheads, accusing each other of stalling tactics. 

Fa's manager Mark Keddell says the proposed fight is dead because Lonergan keeps changing the date and fight terms to favour Huni, who is undefeated in five professional bouts.

Speaking to Newshub, Keddell says Lonergan is using a familiar playbook to drum up support for his newest favorite toy.

"Look, Dean Lonergan is all about trying to grab headlines in the media by making outlandish statements," Keddell says.

"He's been using this playbook since 2012 when he was in charge of Joseph Parker's career - he's all about the circus.

"Junior Fa would love to fight Justis Huni - we said we would fight him in December and [Huni] hurt his hand so it got pushed back to February. 

"Now [Huni] is fighting Joe Goddall instead of us on that date and he [Goodall] is an accomplished amateur boxer, similar in style to Junior and that for us, was eye-raising.

"They asked us to go in May and we wanted Junior on an undercard in March, which we thought was agreed and then they said no to that.

"Lou [Di Bella] told me they changed the date to July or August and at that point, he was done.

"We are talking eight months after the original date had been agreed.

"There is nothing from us that is undermining this - we want this fight, but we have no assurance that the fight will go ahead."

Keddell tells Newshub,  Fa's promoter - Lou Di Bella - has grown so frustrated with the constant changes that he is now looking to the United States for potentially two fights before April for the 19-1 heavyweight prospect.

But Lonergan disputes the claims of Keddell, accusing the 1996 Olympian of "sabotaging" Fa's career.

Speaking to Newshub, Lonergan says the payday they are offering Fa is second only to what the Aucklander made against Joseph Parker.

The former Duco NZ promoter says Keddell has been the stumbling block in negotiations and believes he is trying to protect his investment in Fa, because Huni is the better fighter.

"The requests that keep coming through from these guys are outrageous," Lonergan says.

"I think [Mark] Keddell needs to pull his head in and do what is right for his fighter in what would be easily the second biggest payday of his career.

"Their biggest problem is when Justis beats Junior, they think it will effectively be the end of Junior Fa's career losing to a guy who is 6-0 or 7-0. 

"I've just found Mark very difficult to deal with and I know Joe Parker and his team had the same sort of problems in the lead up to that fight for the same reasons.

"Mark is killing Junior's career and regardless of what he is telling you, I pulled the pin on this weeks ago.

"This fight should have been signed months ago and there is one person in the way and that is Mark Keddell - my record as a promoter stands for itself."

Dean Lonergan
Dean Lonergan Photo credit: Getty Images
Mark Keddell
Mark Keddell Photo credit: Photosport

While Keddell acknowledges Huni is an "excellent" boxer, he is confident if the fight does materialise, Fa would have his way with the Australian heavyweight champion.

"We think Junior wins the fight quite comfortably," says Keddell.

"You only have to look at how Joe Parker struggled against Junior to understand how good Junior is, especially when you look at Joe's outstanding performance against Derek Chisora on Sunday.

"The fact Dean [Lonergan] keeps putting fights in between us and them shows they are wanting to continue to develop him [Huni] to be anywhere near that top level.

"Team Fa wants the fight, our promoter wants the fight but from what I understand Dean is hard to work with, which is why Lou has moved on.

"I actually haven't had much to do with the negotiations - I haven't spoken to Dean in over a month."

Keddell isn't confident Di Bella is willing to do further business with Lonergan, meaning the fight is at an impasse, but Lonergan says it's a blockbuster Australisian bout that would generate great exposure for both heavyweight contenders.

Lonergan says Keddell has his number if he wants to get a deal done.

"At some stage we would still want to fight Junior Fa - he's a great fighter and a great person to have on your record.

"We just need Mark Keddell to be serious and sensible about it, which to me he seems incapable of.

"The fight is not off the table, but they have to stop moving the goalposts."