Paul Gallen's attempt to bring down two fighters in one night ultimately proved successful, but it was not without controversy as his bout against Justin Hodges took several turns toward the bizarre.
After weeks of trash talk and threats from Gallen to walk away, the Cronulla Sharks great's double bout against Ben Hannant and Hodges finally went ahead.
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While Gallen secured a win over Hannant via unanimous decision in the first bout, before a fired-up Hodges threatened to spoil the party.
At times their bout resembed something more akin to a pub brawl than a heavyweight boxing match, with both fighters resorting to all but illegal tactics at times.
Referee Tony Kettlewell was criticised for 'losing control' of the fight, the first signs of which came when Hodges rocked Gallen with a nasty shot after heir pair had been instructed to break from a clinch in the second round.
Hodges did offer a brief apology to Gallen, but was not penalised when hostilities resumed and it was clear Gallen had taken some damage.
He put Gallen on the canvas on the very next exchange, with Gallen admitting after the fight it was one of, if not the hardest shot he'd ever been hit with.
Nevertheless, Gallen got to his feet, and surged back into the fight by pinning Hodges to the ropes to such an extent that he was bent back almost horizontally.
A huge shot from Gallen connected while Hodges was trying his best to defend himself without falling backwards out of the ring, forcing him onto one knee.
Strangely, the referee simply prompted him to 'get up' in a move that left commentator Ben Damon and Aussie boxing great Jeff Fenech astonished.
“That’s absurd,” Damon said.
“I’m surprised no one lost any points in the round, some of the stuff we saw.”
Wild action in the main event as Paul Gallen (13-2-1) gets up off the canvas in the 2nd to stop Justin Hodges (5-2) TKO-3 in their heavyweight bout after Gallen took a UD-4 victory over Ben Hannant (0-2) earlier in the night. Hodges vehemently disputes the stoppage. pic.twitter.com/dpCUOMKN13
— Tim Boxeo (@TimBoxeo) September 15, 2022
Fenech pointed out Hodges arguably could have stayed down, where he potentially would have won via points or disqualification.
Instead the fight rolled on, with Hodges' corner accused of deliberately leaving loose tape on his gloves in order to give him more of a breather, but it was no matter as Gallen claimed a TKO victory in the third.
“I know the ref’s got a job to do, but there was no way in the world I was hurt,” Hodges said afterwards.
“It’s absolute bullcrap. But I’m an ultimate professional, I take it on the chin.
“If Gal wants to do six three-minute rounds, it’s up to (No Limit’s) Matty and George (Rose). I want a rematch because that was bulls***.”
Boxing world left gobsmacked by wild Paul Gallen, Justin Hodges bout
To say Gallen's win was an unconventional one would be an understatement, but after all the sledging the Sharks great paid tribute to Hodges.
"That was really tough," he said after the fight.
"Getting up again, it was probably harder than I thought it was going to be, to be honest.
"I got dropped by Herman Purcell in my first ever fight, (Justis) Huni semi dropped me. Other than that, that's the first time I've been put down by a shot that's absolutely stung me and rocked my brains.
"Got me fair and square. It took me five seconds to get up and make sure I was OK and suck some deep breaths in."
The farcial scenes only descended further in the moments after the fight, when No Limit promoter Matt Ross stormed the ring, only to be met by the referee who blunty told him to 'F*** off. Get the f*** out of the ring. Get out of the ring!'
Both Hodges and Hannant had a $1 million rematch clause in their fight contract if they managed to defeat Gallen, and the former was left filthy about the controversial result.
Though he was remarkably conciliatory in the ring afterwards, Hodges made it clear he wanted another crack at Gallen.
“I was robbed of that opportunity. I wasn’t hurt," Hodges said of his bout with Gallen.
“There’s no way in the world that I was rocked. No way I was even dazed.
“I was against the ropes, got hit twice, but was fine.
“Yeah, we were both knackered. Both throwing punches.
“But it was just a couple of hits that he got me. I was ready to keep going.
“I couldn’t believe he stopped it.”
A Queensland boxing official later revealed Hodges had won the first two round on the judges' scorecards.
While the referee's decision was largely praised among observers, Hodges said it would be a loss that would 'haunt' him for some time.
“I asked why it was stopped and he told me ‘you looked done’," Hodges said.
“I don’t know what he saw.
“But it was a s... way to end the fight.
“(Laughs) Maybe I should drop around to the referee’s house and see if he has the cash … maybe he will give me a million dollars.”
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