Paul Gallen triumphantly ended his 21-year sports career with a unanimous points decision over Justin Hodges in their State of Origin-style boxing grudge match in Sydney.
Gallen couldn’t find the knockout blow Sydney fans at Sydney’s Aware Super Theater were waiting for on Wednesday night.
But the former Blues warrior still packed too many punches for his former longtime opponent from Queensland, who were awarded the contest 60-54, 60-54, 59-55 by all three judges.
“Not many people are lucky enough to win, especially in boxing,” Gallen said.
“He broke my heart many times, Hodgo, so it’s good to have one on him.
“I just did what I had to do. I wasn’t ready to take too many risks tonight. He has power. I just used my right hand.”
Gallen leaves the ring with an impressive 15-2-1 record, with his only losses to Justis Huni and Kris Tervieski for the Australian heavyweight title.
He valiantly went the distance in both fights, only to lose on points.
While a gutsy win over UFC legend Mark Hunt and a stunning first-round knockout of former WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne were highlights of his pugilist career, Gallen ranks elbow at elbow with Huni as an unusual memory.
In rugby league, ironman has achieved more than most players could dream of.
Gallen captained Cronulla to his one and only post as NRL Premier in 2016, NSW to a State of Origin Series drought win over Queensland in 2014 and also won a World Cup in 2013 in 32 testing for Australia.
“I’m just glad it’s all over,” Gallen said. “I’m 41, I’m 42. Time to pull the pin.”
One of the toughest players to put on a boot, Gallen, after this week claiming to have made $25million over the past three years, is unimpressed with the physical toll the game has taken on him, despite a cerebral trauma affecting a band of senior retirees.
“It’s part of life. What can I do about it? I’ve had over 400 rugby union matches. I’ve had 15 or 20 fights,” he said.
“What’s the point of worrying about it? This CT (problem), all that stuff, I’m not trying to minimize it but you won’t know until you’re dead anyway, or you don’t let it know until you’re dead.
“I have a wonderful family, a beautiful wife. I love life. I am well placed financially. I don’t need the money anymore, so what to worry about?
“Whatever happens in the future will happen and then I’ll deal with it.”
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