PAUL Gallen, for a moment, looked gone.
Midway through the second round -- which, coincidentally doubled as 60 seconds in -- and the NSW Origin captain was leaned back against
the ropes and copping Junior Paulo bombs.
Rocked once by the 120kg Canberra Raider. Then again.
And all while a sold out Hordern Pavilion crowd, which had largely booed his ring entry, now cheered.
But Gallen, he has some chin.
Better, he fights back.
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Retaliation now as much his signature inside the ring as on a footy field.
And so just like he has in all five previous wins, Gallen recovered to not only take the second and third, but the fight. Up again in a fortnight against heavyweight Ryan
“I just didn’t want to get caught,’’ an improving Gallen said afterwards, referencing that Paulo XXL right. “I didn’t want to get caught and thankfully I didn’t.
media_camera Sharks captain Paul Gallen (left) and the Raiders’ Junior Paulo trade blows on Friday night.
“He’s a good guy Junior and a good footballer. I hope to see him play
for NSW next year.”
And so ended a night that, we have to admit, was entertaining if not highly skilful.
The fighters impressing a heaving crowd which included a galaxy of NRL stars such as Mitchell Pearce, Corey Norman, Adam Reynolds, Marty Tapau, John Sutton, Daly Cherry-Evans, Jake Trjbojevic and Boyd Cordner.
And why not?
Here for the first time in a while, leaguies were fighting without an NRL CEO, judiciary or Integrity Unit in sight.
And while the scorecards read
30-27,30-27, 30-28 for Gallen, debutant Paulo certainly had a crack.
Same deal in the co-main, when Chrissy Sandow and Todd Carney fought like they were out in the carpark.
Opening round, the pair looked every inch two bad boy playmakers having a crack behind play.
Points for enthusiasm. A few less for style.
media_camera Junior Paulo lands a shot on Paul Gallen.
Sandow’s punches flying from further back than Dennis Lillee on a long run.
And all the while, the little Aboriginal No.7 cackled.
Still laughing, too, when he twice slipped over in the second, got clocked in the third and eventually fought back for a majority draw.
And, sure, part of you wondered if maybe these two should still be bringing crowds to their collective feet in the NRL, not six minutes of charity boxing.
But then, well, off they’d go again. Swiiiish, swooosh, bang.
“Tough sport, tough sport,’’ Sandow gasped afterwards.
“It was never gunna be pretty,’’ he said. “We’re footballers not boxers ... and boxing’s definitely not for me.”
Promoted by Matt
Rose -- the brother of retired NRL cult figure Gorgeous George -- the fight night proved a solid mix of laughs, enthusiasm and several real professionals like rising Tamworth product Kye McKenzie.
media_camera Todd Carney throws a right at Chris Sandow.
Boasting 13 knock outs from his 16 fights, McKenzie won himself the Australian Super Lightweight title with a brutal fourth round finish of Sydneysider Dylan Emery.
Parramatta forward Peni Terepo also confirmed it would be no easy night for the leaguies when, in the fourth fight of the night, his corner was forced to throw in the towel against unknown rival David Tuliloa.
Despite boasting only the one fight, a loss, Tuliloa hammered Terepo in the second before cornerman, former Rooster Willis Meehan, tossed a white towel into the ring.
But if you had to pick a real star of night, go with Mckenzie.
After a surviving an early onslaught from Emery, the young indigenous fighter produced a flurry of punches in the fourth which, first, put his previously undefeated rival in a standing eight count before then almost sending him through the ropes and onto a ringside judge.
Earlier, rising heavyweight Jai Opetaia cruised to an easy first round victory while veteran junior middleweights Tommy Browne and Samuel Colomban also produced the type of slugfest that is going through six rounds for a split draw.