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New Zealand Heavyweight Junior Fa Retires From Boxing After Epiphany

New Zealand Heavyweight Junior Fa Retires From Boxing After Epiphany featured image
RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA - DECEMBER 21: Junior Fa looks on as he speaks to the media during the press conference ahead of the Heavyweight fight between Frank Sanchez and Junior Fa during the Day of Reckoning card at Press Arena, Kingdom Arena on December 21, 2023 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. (Photo by Richard Pelham/Getty Images)

Junior Fa, one of the most well-known boxers to come out of New Zealand, has decided to put an end to his boxing career after a heavy moment of introspection has prompted him to decide to find a different career path. The New Zealander had been set to face Russian heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov on May 25th, but Makhmudov will now be in search of a new opponent following Fa’s decision.

As an amateur, Junior Fa represented the nation of Tonga where he did well, winning one gold medal and two silver medals in three consecutive Oceanian Championships in 2008, 2010 and 2012. Fa further managed to defeat New Zealander rival Joseph Parker (35-3, 23 KO’s) during a qualifying run for the 2012 London Olympics that he narrowly ended up missing.

Junior Fa would remain an amateur for a decent amount of time until he decided to become a professional in 2016 where he carved out a career for himself while fighting mostly in Australia. The New Zealander eventually crossed paths with Parker again in 2021, losing by unanimous decision (UD) in a competitive fight.

Roughly a year later, Fa suffered a surprising first-round knockout (KO) loss to Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne (31-5, 27 KO’s, before losing for the third time of his career to Cuban contender Frank Sanchez (24-0, 17 KO’s) on December 23rd in a technical knockout (TKO) loss. Throughout his entire career, Junior Fa won a total of 20 fights, 11 coming by way of knockouts or stoppages, and ultimately lost thrice.

Though Junior Fa’s career had been relatively on the downturn following his last fight against Sanchez, the 34-year old’s decision to retire seems to have been prompted by an epiphany of sorts as Fa went on to explain why he would quit boxing during an interview with New Zealander media outlet Stuff.

I looked down at my fists,” Junior Fa said. “‘Why am I doing this? I don’t want to hurt people anymore.’

The question that popped into my mind was, ‘Why am I training so hard to hurt people?’

A crisis of faith has apparently driven Junior Fa to make the decision to quit, having left his Mormon faith roughly a year ago to become “almost an anti-theist, definitely agnostic to atheist”, as Fa had put it during his interview.

While it is unknown upon which path Junior Fa will embark and whether he will stay in boxing in the capacity of a trainer or otherwise, the New Zealander’s boxing days appear to be definitively closed.

I am feeling sad because I am leaving something that has been such a big part of my life … for as long as I can remember, I’ve been involved in boxing, it’s all that I know and I am leaving all that behind and mourning that,” Fa told Stuff. “I feel sad for that, but I am also relieved, because I am more in tune with myself, and I am excited for the future.

While a chapter has been closed to Fa’s boxing days, Russian heavyweight Arslanbek Makhmudov (18-1, 17 KO’s) in the meantime will be looking for an opponent to face him on May 25th. Makhmudov was set to feature against Junior Fa on a card promoted by Eye of the Tiger Promotions and Blanko Sports―which will be headlined by French super middleweight contender Christian M’billi (26-0, 22 KO’s) and British boxer Mark Heffron (30-3-1, 24 KO’s). The event will be staged at the Centre Gervais Auto in Shawinigan, Quebec.