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Wednesday, November 23, 2022

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Australian boxing has been the winner as Paul Gallen ends his career with victory


Paul Gallen has hung up his boxing gloves after 18 professional fights.

Gallen’s unanimous decision victory over Justin Hodges, 60-54, 60-54, 59-55, brings down the curtain on his second sporting career, which he ends with a 15-2-1 (8 KOs) record. 

It’s worth noting that Gallen’s only two defeats came against full-time professional heavyweights: Justis Huni and Kris Terzievski, with the draw against ex-AFL star Barry Hall the only other blemish.

Admittedly, the rest of his rap sheet can only be described as mixed in terms of opposition, with a collection of former footy stars dominating the list.

But that small fact not withstanding, as far as second sporting careers go it’s been a decent — and lucrative — one for the 41-year-old Cronulla great — as well as Australian boxing as a whole.

Paul Gallen only lost twice in his boxing career, the first time against Justis Huni.(AAP: Dan Himbrechts)

Gallen told reporters this week that he had earned $25 million in the ring over past three years — an amount comfortably in excess of what he would have earned in his 19-year, 350 game NRL career.

It is a career that has also helped launch — or at least offer a helping hand with — the careers of the growing number of Australia’s top pugilists, including Tim and Nikita Tszyu, Harry Garside and Huni.

That’s because Gallen, with his profile as a top NRL player and media personality, sold fights.

The shows that he has headlined, or at least been the co-main event on, have helped pack arenas and offer a profile — and inflated prize purse — to those boxers coming up from the amateurs.

Gallen knows this and has not been afraid of saying it either, even offering Huni advice on how to sell himself and his fights after his TKO defeat in their Australian title fight in 2021.

Paul Gallen hits  Kris Terzievski with a right hand
Paul Gallen was a punching bag against Justis Huni, but against Kris Terzievski he boxed well in defeat.(Getty Images: Mark Evans)

“I constantly get ridiculed on social media,” Gallen said prior to meeting Terzievski.

“The general boxing fan still says I’m no good for the sport.

“Well the fact is I am good for the sport.

“I bring attention, I bring eyeballs.”

It’s impossible to argue that he hasn’t done so.

After Gallen beat former Manly prop Darcy Lussick in December last year, he called out boxing fans as hypocrites for denigrating his events as novelties, despite an apparent reluctance for those same fight fans to attend “pure” boxing shows.

Gallen’s fight was the headline act of two nights of boxing, the first featuring two of Australia’s best on the world stage, Andrew and Jason Moloney.

The crowd for Gallen’s footy-focussed card was close to a sell out.

Yet the crowd at the same venue the night before for the “genuine” boxers was paltry.

Paul Gallen stands with a neutral expression on his face
Paul Gallen has called out boxing fans for supporting him and not other, more conventional boxers.(Getty Images: Chris Hyde)

“I watched last night when a former world champion [Andrew Moloney] fought in front of deadset 100 people,” Gallen then said in the ring.

“Where’s all these people who want to bag me for boxing? [Why aren’t they] watching the Moloney boys?

“It really frustrates me.”

Gallen has described himself as a “prize fighter” — i.e. not in it for belts (although he has twice fought for the Australian heavyweight strap) but for money.

He has, though, stepped up and proven himself against some of Australia’s best heavyweights.

He far from disgraced himself against either Huni or Terzievski in their contests, getting stopped late by the former and being beaten on points by the latter.

He also spectacularly stopped Lucas Browne, the former WBA (Regular) heavyweight champion who may have looked shockingly bad on that night, has since knocked out worked-ranked Kiwi boxer Junior Fa on the undercard of George Kambosos vs Devin Haney

And yet some of his contests have been borderline farcical.

The precursor to Wednesday night’s meeting with Hodges could even have been described as dangerous, when he fought two, four-round contests on the same night against Hodges and Ben Hannant in Brisbane, back in September this year.

His three, two-minute rounds against a woefully out-matched Lussick could also be considered a desperate example of the genre.

But after that same show, Gallen shared a $20,000 bonus from promoter George Rose with young pros Sam Goodman (13-0, 7KOs) and Harry Garside (3-0, 2KOs).

Paul Gallen stands with his arms folded next to Tim Tszyu
Tim Tszyu (left) fought on the same card as Paul Gallen twice on his rise to towards a world title fight.(Getty Images: Jenny Evans)

“I don’t know what these guys are getting paid, but I got a good bonus tonight,” Gallen said at the time.

“I’m getting paid well. So I’m happy to share the joy with them.”

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