NRL news 2022: Siosiua Taukeiaho dubbed next Paul Gallen, no-one wants to fight him, Roosters, boxing, Gallen vs Hodges 2

Roosters premiership hero Siosiua Taukeiaho has been hailed the man to replace Paul Gallen as Australia’s next crossover boxing star – if only somebody would fight him.

Now just seven days out from Gallen’s hyped heavyweight boxing farewell, promoters No Limit are still searching the country for someone to throw down with Taukeiaho in his professional debut.

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Wonderfully dubbed ‘TKO’ for the power in his hands, the two-time premiership prop is desperate to fight on the November 23 card set to be headlined by Origin rivals Gallen and Justin Hodges.

As part of preparations, the 30-year-old has even spent the past month in England mixing his Tongan Rugby League World Cup campaign with training sessions at the gym of Martin Murray, the nation’s former WBA middleweight champ.

Problem is, word of those sessions – and the power possessed by the new Catalans Dragons signing – has apparently spread right throughout the NRL ranks, with promoter George Rose revealing even heavyweights with fights already to their name have knocked back approaches to oppose the debutant.

“So he’s the footballer nobody wants to fight,” Rose laughed this week when quizzed about the Tongan World Cup star.

“We’ve had Sio pencilled in to fight on Paul Gallen’s undercard, but no one is stepping up to the plate.

“We’ve hit up a heap of NRL players who have talked tough — as well as professional boxers too — but we still can’t get him a fight.

“It’s pretty ridiculous really.

“He hasn’t even fought professionally yet. And we’re giving somebody the best platform you could ask for as a fighter.”

With Gallen set to hang up the gloves for good after the Hodges bout, Rose said No Limit Boxing was keen to find another fighting footballer with genuine Pay-Per-View appeal.

It comes not only a week out from the Cronulla premiership hero’s farewell, but with Sonny Bill Williams having also been kayoed by UFC great Mark Hunt in his most recent outing.

Despite being considered a massive favourite against Hunt, now aged 48, Williams was stopped by the ‘Walkoff KO King’ in the fourth round of their bout.

So what chance then the fighter dubbed TKO?

Back in 2019, NRL fans seemed set for a showcase of Taukeiaho’s punching power when he now famously took a swing at towering Melbourne enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona on the opening play of the SCG preliminary final.

Sadly, the pair were quickly separated and then sin binned, with Gallen saying in Channel Nine commentary that the punishment had taken “the natural justice out of the game”.

Four years on and the Tongan powerhouse is now being dubbed as the man to take Gallen’s place in boxing headliners.

Yet with seemingly no one keen to take him on, Rose has now thrown the challenge out to every NRL player — and even heavyweights generally — in the hope somebody with similar experience will step up.

“Gal is leaving the boxing game after his rematch with Hodgo, so someone has to step up to the plate,” Rose said.

“And it’s a massive opportunity — find the next Paul Gallen on his own undercard.

“But they have to be quick.

“If anyone out there thinks they can take down ‘TKO’ Taukeiaho then hit me up ASAP.”

Speaking with Fox Sports Australia a fortnight ago, Taukeiaho said that while he has been preparing for his boxing crossover since June, the association with Murray only materialised a day before departing for England.

The prop said it was during a meeting with boxing manager Pete Mitrevski, who oversees the likes of rising stars Harry Garside and Sam Goodman, that he decided to take a fight this year.

Taukeiaho says Mitrevski praised his power and speed, stressing it was every bit as good as Australia’s fellow footballers-turned-fighters.

“And I’ve been told a few times by guys holding pads that I have power,” the prop conceded when pushed on his conversation with manager who was himself a former boxer.

“But I just thought trainers say that to all their fighters.

“But the day before flying out for the World Cup, I just did a session with Pete — pads, bag work, stuff like that — and afterwards we had a good chat about me taking this seriously because of my power and speed.

“Previously, I’ve never taken boxing seriously. It was more about keeping fit for footy season.

“But Pete said I could do things in the sport. And after hearing that, it made me realise this could be a good opportunity to test myself, chase the dream.”

After eight years and 168 games for the Roosters — including consecutive NRL premierships from 2018 — the prop is headed to French club Catalans for 2023.

Originally published as ‘Next Paul Gallen’: NRL premiership hero nobody wants to fight

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