Paul Gallen has bowed out of his 22-year career as a winner, defeating Justin Hodges in a unanimous decision in Sydney.
The co-main event saw the former footy stars slug it out in six, two-and-a-half minute rounds to decide their feud once and for all.
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As much as Hodges found their last fight controversial, there was no denying Gallen was the superior fighter in the rematch, nearly blanking his former Origin rival, winning all but one round on all three cards.
Gallen came out the stronger in the first round looking to hurt Hodges with his experience and skill after two Australian heavyweight title fights.
Hodges was trying to land a big right hand but appeared to have improved his jabbing.
The Queenslander almost lost his composure in the second round when the referee called him out for holding, claiming Gallen had punched him in the back of the head.
“He’s saying he’s getting punched in the back of the head – stop holding him and you won’t get punched in the back of the head,” Fenech said.
But Gallen’s class was clear from the outset as he did what he needed to do to go out a winner.
“I wasn’t prepared to take too many risks tonight so I just did what I needed to do, used my jab,” he said. “But I got the win and not too many people get to go out on a victory, especially in boxing so it was good to do it tonight.
“He broke my heart plenty of times Hodgo so it was good to get one back at him but he’s a warrior.
“I’m just glad it’s all over, I’ve had enough. I’m 41 going on 42. All respect to Hodgo, I think 12 months ago I would have won more convincingly but you’ve got to slow down at some stage and it’s hit me now so it’s time to pull the pin.”
Gallen said the pair had a lot of respect for each other and can be friends again after playing together on Kangaroos rugby league tours.
He added it was a fact of life that people get older and he’s not the same fighter he was a year ago.
“I can’t train as hard, I can’t spar as hard, and I can’t fight as hard,” he said. “The only other way out of here is if I come out and someone ices me out cold. I don’t deserve that. I don’t deserve that from someone 15 years younger than me. So I think it’s time to pull the pin.”
It sees Gallen go out with a 15-2-1 record with the two losses coming against Justis Huni and Kris Terzievski, both for the Australian heavyweight title.
It’s been a tremendous second sporting career as Gallen helped prove the platform for many rising Australian boxers.
Hodges agreed he is also done with his sporting career.
“F**k I hate losing,” he said. “I’ll see, I’ve got two young kids to think about and you don’t want to get punched in the head all the time as well.”
The fight was the highlight of the night despite being the co-main event.
Michael Zerafa won his return to Main Event with an uninspiring unanimous points victory over Danilo Creati.
But commentator Paul Kent slammed the lacklustre performance.
“I’ll tell you the problem for Zerafa will be for the potential Gennady Golovkin fight, it’s not that Golovkin won’t want to fight, it’s whether Golovkin thinks he can make money out of fighting him,” Kent said. “That’s going to be the issue.
“Golovkin’s going to have seen nothing in that performance that’s going to make him go ‘I better be careful with this guy’.
“What he’s going to see in that performance is ‘how do I sell this fight?’”
He was billed as “the next Paul Gallen” but Sio Siua Taukeiaho has not earned a fan of Aussie boxing legend Jeff Fenech in his debut.
The former Roosters champion is seen as a strong prospect and his workouts have sparked plenty of speculation he could make a good boxer. Taukeiaho claimed a unanimous 39-36, 40-35×2 win.
The 39-year-old Lowe made a run at boxing earlier this year but was KOed by John Maila, before taking the fight short notice.
However, in a tame four-rounder, Lowe impressed while Taukeiaho left a lot to be desired.
In the first round, the 2012 Melbourne Storm premiership winner Lowe looked the stronger of the fighters, landing some heavy shots, having come into the fight over 30kg heavier than the Catalans Dragons recruit.
But in the second round, Lowe appeared to run at Taukeiaho, falling through the ropes after copping a few solid shots.
It was marked as a knockdown but Jeff Fenech said it was “definitely not a knockdown”, claiming Lowe was just off-balance.
“It’s a lot of hype, he’s not showing much,” Fenech said of Taukeiaho.
While Taukeiaho landed a big overhand in the final round, he was never at risk of taking down Lowe.
Taukeiaho can box; great jab, decent footwork and speed, showed ring smarts. He’s got a future, get a four-round decision victory
— Jamie Pandaram (@JamiePandaram) November 23, 2022
Paul Kent said in commentary Taukeiaho was “an educated fighter” and waited for his shots.
Joel Taylor is the new Australian welterweight champion after Ty Telford retired on his stool in between rounds.
It’s the biggest win of Taylor’s career, having put in a tremendous performance.
Telford was in trouble throughout the fight but was struggling to see.
After the sixth round, Telford’s cornerman asked if he’d had enough and he admitted he’d had enough, handing the win to Taylor after brilliant slugfest.
Jeff Horn said: “I thought it would have been a sensible stoppage from either corner. I thought they were both landing big shots like that.”
The retiring Paul Gallen respected the fight, saying: “That was brutal one that one, they just gave it to each other. Good fight.”
South Sydney forward David Suluka-Fifita has fallen short in his boxing debut, losing a unanimous decision to Newcastle’s Bryce Jones.
While he took a round off Jones, the big Novocastrian landed the better shots, with the Rabbitoh only just making it out of the second round.
Jones dominated the performance, landing more than twice the shots Suluka-Fifita landed and leaving the NRL star strugging.
“He’s exhausted,” Jeff Horn said in commentary.
“Can’t even walk back to the corner. Just more landed by Jones, all bigger shots. Fifita started very strong but the accumulation of punches from Jones wore him out. Jones kept coming and wore him down. Just clean shots landed from Jones, backing him up.”
It was the second last fight of the preliminary card which had just the one KO.
Eels skipper Junior Paulo has revealed he was meant to be the final fight of Paul Gallen’s career, not Justin Hodges.
After pushing Gallen back in 2016, Paulo has long been floated as a potential rematch but only his World Cup commitments with Samoa stopping another clash.
“I was supposed to be Gal’s last fight — not Justin Hodges,” Paulo told Fox Sports.
“We had it all lined up with No Limit but then it didn’t work out with Gal’s schedule and my World Cup commitments.
“It’s a shame as it would have been a mad fight. I’m ten times the fighter I was when we first fought and Gal knows that too.”
But now he’s called out any other player – past or present – for a potential fight.
I’m serious when I say I’ll honestly fight anyone,” Paulo said.
“If this really is Gal’s last fight, let’s see if the rest of them want it – Justin Hodges, Lodge, anyone.
“I’ve heard Siua (Taukeiaho) can throw them too, that would be another good fight with us two representing our proud islander heritage.”
He even said he’d take Hodges if he can knock Gallen out.
Michael Zerafa defeated Danilo Creati via unanimous decision (98-93, 98-92, 99-91)
Paul Gallen defeated Justin Hodges via unanimous decision (60-54×2, 59-55)
Paulo Aokuso defeated David Zegarra via TKO – round 2, 1:48
Sio Siua Taukeiaho defeated Jaiman Lowe via unanimous decision (39-36, 40-35×2)
Joel Taylor defeated Ty Telford via corner stoppage after sixth round — for vacant Australian welterweight title
Liam Talivaa defeated Louis Marsters via unanimous decision (40-35×3)
Koen Mazoudier defeated Wade Ryan via unanimous decision (77-76, 77-75×2)
Shanell Dargan drew with Chandni Mehra via split decision (39-37, 37-39, 38-all)
Bryce Jones defeated Daniel Suluka-Fifita via unanimous decision (39-37×3)
Tommy Browne defeated Jorge Kapeen via unanimous decision (59-55×2, 60-54)
Deanha Hobbs defeated Tywarna Campbell via unanimous decision (49-46 x3)
George Peterson draws with Gary Phillips via split decision (39-37, 37-39, 38-38)
Ben Hussain defeated Micky Pengue via TKO, round 2
How to watch?
The fight night prelims will be played on Fox Sports before switching to Main Event for the Main Card.
Watch Gallen v Hodges 2 & Michael Zerafa’s return to the ring LIVE on Main Event available on Foxtel & Kayo Sports, Wednesday November 23 from 7pm AEDT ORDER NOW
What ever happened to state vs state?
NSW Blues and Kangaroos star Latrell Mitchell has bet his entire World Cup bonus on former Queensland centre Justin Hodges, snubbing former Blues skipper Paul Gallen in his final fight.
Mitchell and the Kangaroos took home a $6000 World Cup bonus and the Souths star has bet it all on Hodges.
Initially he was set to buy a cow for his farm in Taree but instead he’ll be in the Maroons’ corner with a chance to win $48,000.
“I’m that confident I’m putting my World Cup bonus down for it, Hodgo to win by KO,” Mitchell told News Corp Australia.
“I was going to buy a cow for the farm, but I’ll put it on Hodgo and hopefully get a lot more money back.
“I’m throwing it straight on there, I reckon he’s a chance to show his hand and get in early with Gal.”
Gallen has entered the fight saying he’s not the boxer he once was, and hopes his legendary workrate will be enough to get him over the line.
But Mitchell feels it may be one fight too many.
“I think after the [Justis] Huni fight, you could see it getting to him,” Mitchell said.
“With Gal, you know he’ll always turn up and do his job, he showed that in his footy career and he’s shown that in his boxing career.
“Everybody has turned up to watch him get knocked out and he’s always proved everyone wrong, but I’ve got my money Hodges this time.
“He’s put in the work, he told me he’s fitter now than when he was playing rugby league, he’s trained harder than what he did playing rugby league.”