At just 17 years of age Justin Juuko won gold at the 1990 Auckland Commonwealth games and the International WBC title as a super-featherweight.
Juuko was a teenager destined for greatness, one may looked at as a definite future world champion, which never came to pass.
Yeah, in 1998, 1999, I was with Top Rank. But I had been with Frank Warren and Frank Maloney and I was highly ranked in all the organizations. I almost had a fight with Arturo Gatti, I was the WBC number-two at the time. There was no number-one [contender] at the time (laughs). I asked Frank why I wasn’t the number-one then. He told me my problem was, I was too good for my own good. He told me I was too big a risk for these guys to fight. This was when I first learned the business of the sport.
Juuko told Boxing News on Tuesday
So I went with Top Rank and they got me a fight with Antonio Hernandez [for the interim WBA super-featherweight title, in February of 1999]. HBO offered Hernandez a fight with Floyd Mayweather Jr instead of me, but I got the fight
I had trouble making weight for that fight. I was training with Freddie Roach (current coach of Manny Pacquiao and I remember telling the promoters I didn’t feel well, and maybe I shouldn’t fight. They told me if I didn’t fight it would be two years before I got another world title fight. I lost that fight. I had him down two or three times but I was getting weaker and weaker
Juuko lost via a 11th-round TKO in a match he was ahead by two points on two of the cards.
I then planned to move up to box at lightweight. But I was offered the fight with Floyd. I was called three days before that fight [laughs].
In the interview, Juuko also talked about the 1999 meeting with Floyd Mayweather Jr who stopped in after nine rounds.
I had trained for another guy but they called and offered me the fight with Floyd. HBO had refused two or three guys [as challengers for Mayweather, who was the WBC super-featherweight champion) and they called me. I said, if I could fight at five-pounds over [the super-featherweight limit], okay. But they said it had to be a world title fight. I was 140-pounds the day before the fight (laughs). I ran six miles that night and again the next morning. Everything was [focused] on making weight for that fight. I did what I could, and he knows I gave him a good fight.
Juuko spent most his time in America fighting for regional titles and not serious world title fights, if the shots came his way, they were on short notice giving him limited time to prepare.
Justin Juuko fact file
Real name: Justin Juuko
Nickname: The Destroyer
Rated at: feather/super feather/light/light welter/welterweight
Height: 5 ft 7 1⁄2 in (1.71 m)
Reach: 72 in (183 cm)
Born: December 26, 1972 (age 42)
Wins: 40 (KO 30)
Losses: 12 (KO 11)