Although Paul Gallen earned the respect of his critics against Justis Huni, boxing pundits have blasted one aspect of the brutal fight.
Former rugby league star Paul Gallen has been lavished with praise following Wednesday night’s brutal loss to Australian heavyweight champion Justis Huni, and rightfully so.
The 39-year-old almost went 10 rounds against the Olympic gold medal hopeful at Sydney’s ICC Exhibition Centre, earning the respect of many of his critics.
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Gallen showed remarkable courage throughout a fight dominated by his younger opponent, ultimately giving way in the final round after succumbing to a barrage of punches that left him completely cooked.
As early as the end of the second round, Gallen was in strife. He gave a pained nod when pressed by the referee if he was OK to continue and showed tremendous courage to plough on — even though that was the round he suffered a suspected broken rib that plagued him for the rest of the bout.
Gallen was barely hanging on in the final rounds and several pundits questioned why the referee did not stop the fight earlier.
It had already been abundantly clear Gallen was no chance of clinching victory — something the ex-NSW Origin skipper himself admitted after the fight — but the onslaught continued as Huni kept swinging, but failed to deliver the knockout blow until the very end.
Channel 7’s Chris Garry tweeted: “My goodness Gallen is tough but this is unnecessary punishment. Referee should have stopped it four times by now. Ridiculous it was allowed to go that long.”
Sports journalist Mark Gottlieb posted: “Don’t let Paul Gallen’s ‘toughness’ distract from the fact that this was a gross mismatch that should have people questioning whoever OK’ed this bout.
“It gave Huni the publicity he needs to be a superstar though I guess.
“You’re actually not supposed to come out of a boxing event saying, ‘Gee, I can’t believe that one guy took that much punishment and didn’t go down way earlier.’”
Football commentator Adam Peacock tweeted “That line between brave and stupid got blurred late on” while journalist Dominique Loudon added: “Take the (money) & run Gallen. Brutal stuff. His poor wife.”
During the fight, Brent read wrote on social media: “They need to think about stopping this. Gallen getting tagged far too much.”
READ MORE: Sad reality for Aussie boxing star
Elaborating on his painful rib injury after the fight, Gallen said: “I just couldn’t go forward and couldn’t move – even now I’m in a fair bit of pain.
“I just never had good movement. I was sitting still too often, and the corner was telling me what to do in between rounds, but it was clicking every time I moved.
“When I did get on the inside of him, I felt like I was going OK, but he only had to touch it – and he did that a couple of times – and he hurt me.
“When he was hitting me, he wasn’t overly hurting me or shaking me, but every time he went to the body, it killed me.”
Nearing 40, there will be plenty urging Gallen to hang up the gloves, saying he has nothing to prove.
The former Cronulla Sharks star could pocket $1.5 million for Wednesday’s fight, depending on the number of pay-per-views sold, and there would be no shame in stepping away.
“I wouldn’t like to see him fight anymore. I don’t think he can go any higher than where he went tonight,” The Daily Telegraph’s Paul Kent told Main Event.
“He certainly doesn’t want any better opponent than what Justis Huni gave him tonight.
“He can go back, he can fight the Barry Halls of the world again and have the rematches, there’s always the talk about fighting Sonny Bill Williams, which is out on the horizon.
“But I think tonight he got his payday. I would like, for his own welfare, for him to say, ‘You know what, I’m 39-years-old. I’m going to go an have the shoulder operation, I’m going to go off into retirement and enjoy spending my money’.”
Gallen vs Huni full fight card and results
Justis Huni defeats Paul Gallen via TKO, Round 10
Issac Hardman defeats Emmanuel Carlos, via TKO, Round 4
Andrei Mikhailovic defeats Alex Hanan via TKO, Round 2
Sam Goodman defeats Nort Beauchamp via TKO, Round 6
Jason Whateley defeats Victor Oganov via TKO, Round 4