Paul Gallen has won over the boxing world despite his brutal loss to Kris Terzievski in Newcastle on Wednesday night.
Terzievski is the new Australian heavyweight champion after outlasting Gallen and likely ending the former NRL star's decorated sporting career in an epic 10-round battle.
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Terzievski dominated for much of the encounter but had to survive an incredible ninth-round fightback from Gallen before eventually gaining the judges' unanimous decision, with all three scoring it 97-92.
Gallen was bidding to become the first cross-code athlete to claim the national heavyweight belt as well the Australasian heavyweight strap, but it wasn't to be.
Instead, the 40-year-old is again pondering retirement after confessing to feeling his age as Terzievski was hailed as "King of the Castle".
"Age probably caught up with me a bit. What can you do?" said a battered and blue Gallen.
"That's life. Everyone gets old and whether I do it again, I'm not too sure. We'll have to wait and see.
"Yeah, it could be it. We'll see."
The boxing world was left in awe of Gallen's insane fightback and courage after he wore a number of brutal shots from Terzievski but kept going.
“Paul, you’re an absolute champion, brother,” Terzievski said in the ring.
“You’re the toughest bloke I have ever hit in my life. Literally the toughest man in Australia.”
Boxing reporter Brendan Bradford wrote on Twitter: “Say what you want about Gallen, but that guy is outrageously tough. It’s insane”.
Sports journalist Todd Balym posted: “Paul Gallen admits age has finally caught up with him in boxing … four rounds later he fully won over the crowd.
"Great fight. Gotta respect his courage. Toughest man in Australian sport. But it’s time to retire”.
NRL commentator Dan Ginnane added: “Win lose or draw that should be it for Gal. Would go out with pride and on his feet.
"Forget dreams of SBW. Terrific 2nd career. Go and be a commentator for the next 20 years”.
Smart, and pretty slick boxing from Terzievski.
Say what you want about Gallen, but that guy is outrageously tough. It's insane. #GallenTerzievski
— Brendan Bradford (@1bbradfo) May 11, 2022
— Adam Auld (@Adam_Auld) May 11, 2022
That Gallen motor is insane for his age
— Silky Johnson (@alltimeMP) May 11, 2022
Paul Gallen is a beast. At 40 his engine is unrivalled. The definition of when the going gets tough the tough get going. Outboxed tonight but the longer it went Terzievski didn’t want a bar of it. If that’s it for Gal, he has been very entertaining in the ring #GallenvsTerzievski
— Jake Duke (@JakeDuke1) May 11, 2022
— Tom Naghten (@tnatts93) May 11, 2022
— Aussie Fight Network (@aussiefightnet) May 11, 2022
If Gallen can land one good shot in this final round, Terzievski might be done.
His gas tank looks completely empty. #GallenTerzievski
— Alex Conrad (@alexhconrad) May 11, 2022
Kris Terzievski too good for Paul Gallen
Little separated the fighters in the opening rounds before Terzievski was warned twice for low blows in the fifth.
The champion landed some heavy lefts, cutting Gallen's left eye with one heavy blow as the NRL legend began to look vulnerable.
The southpaw was deducted a point for another low shot in the seventh round, but it didn't matter as Terzievski's dominance eventually told.
Terzievski lined up for a killer left hook midway through an epic eighth round but Gallen courageously climbed off the ropes to stay on his feet.
Gallen, incredibly, looked like dropping Terzievski in the ninth round as the 32-year-old himself looked out on his feet. However he hung tough.
"I left it too late," said Gallen. "A mate of mine, Pete Mitrevski, he told me out there, 'you don't get old in between fights, you get old in between rounds' and I felt it today.
"I felt it a couple of times in sparring, to be honest. I always had this ability to take the extra step and just go harder and harder and harder.
"(But) I tried to put the foot on the accelerator in five, six and seven and I just couldn't.
"It wasn't until he got tired in round nine that I had him hurt but I just couldn't finish, to be honest."
Terzievski now believes he has the world at his feet after retaining the belt that he claimed when Justis Huni was forced to relinquish it due to injury and Covid-19.
Huni is the only other boxer to defeat Gallen and already his team is lobbying to fight Terzievski.
With bigger fish to fry internationally, Terzievski said he'd considered Huni as an option - but only for big money.
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