John Hopoate caught up in boxing WAG's furious spray

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  • Paul Gallen
    Australian rugby league footballer
  • John Hopoate
    Tongan-Australian rugby league footballer
  • Darcy Lussick
    Australian rugby league footballer
  • Joseph Leilua
    Australian rugby league footballer
  • Chris Heighington
    English-Australian rugby league footballer
Joey Leilua won via unanimous decision against Chris Heighington on Wednesday night in Sydney. Pic: Getty
Joey Leilua won via unanimous decision against Chris Heighington on Wednesday night in Sydney. Pic: Getty

Controversial rugby league figure John Hopoate found himself at the centre of ugly scenes in Sydney on Wednesday night, following Joey Leilua's boxing victory over fellow rugby league identity Chris Heighington.

The pair were fighting on the undercard of the Paul Gallen fight against Darcy Lussick, which the former won via TKO to continue his impressive fighting career, post-NRL.

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Leilua, who was discarded by the Wests Tigers in 2021, proved many of his doubters wrong after scoring a majority decision win against retired NRL star, Heighington.

The Samoan international - who many critics insisted would struggle to last the four rounds against his older opponent - scored a 38-37, 39-27 (x 2) victory on the judges' score cards.

He then took it upon himself after the bout to settle his own score.

“For all those haters that f***ing said I can’t last four rounds — thanks mate, you gave me inspiration tonight,” Leilua said.

“I knew I could fight. I just wanted to show the world that I could f***ing last four rounds.

“The stereotype of me being fat and can’t last four rounds, you know what, f*** yourselves — there you go.”

Leilua's wife raced onto the stage to join him, with the pair sharing a kiss and a hug before she also became involved in an ugly slanging match.

Seen here, Joey Leilua's wife kisses her husband before hitting out in anger at John Hopoate.
Joey Leilua's wife jumped into the ring to congratulate her husband before unloading on John Hopoate, who was watching ringside. Pic: Main Event

Vision from the Main Event broadcast showed Leilua's wife apparently flipping off someone in the crowd, before reportedly giving them an almighty spray.

Broadcaster Paul Kent later revealed that former NRL bad boy Hopoate was the target of the angry tirade.

“What was interesting was after the fight, John Hopoate — who’s here in the audience — went over to his corner and appeared to be calling him out,” Kent said.

“And Joey’s wife, who we might have just caught there on the vision, and also Joey’s trainer told him where he could go.”

Paul Gallen notches another impressive win

In the night's main bout, Gallen survived a first-round scare to seal a TKO victory against a dazed and confused Lussick at Sydney's Star Casino.

The third-round win means the only blemish in Gallen's boxing career is his defeat to Justis Huni.

Gallen gave away six inches in height but his experience in the ring proved invaluable as he withstood Lussick's early barrage to claim the win.

Lussick, whose sole fight prior to this bout was a 39-second knockout of ex-Brisbane Broncos and Queensland rugby league star Justin Hodges, took this match-up with four weeks' notice.

But he started with incredible brutality and had Gallen beaten for much of the first round.

Gallen's durability proved crucial in the second round and after Lussick started brightly he relinquished control of the contest.

The former Manly prop was quite literally clinging to Gallen as he tired towards the end of the second and dropped to the canvas.

Lussick survived the count and went into the third in all sorts of trouble.

Pictured right, Paul Gallen celebrates his win against Darcy Lussick in Sydney.
Paul Gallen (R) wins his fight against Darcy Lussick during their Footy Fight Night Christmas Bash heavyweight bout in Sydney. Pic: Getty

It took referee Les Fear just 20 seconds in the third to call time as a disorientated Lussick looked on.

"To his credit he was too strong to push away," Gallen said.

"I wasn't concerned (by the first round) with all due respect. I took a punch and then I was just carrying him.

"I can't thank him enough for stepping in."

Gallen said he wasn't holding his breath for a chance of a highly anticipated fight against Sonny Bill Williams.

"There's one fight everyone wants to see me have," he said. "It's been talked about for 10 years."

The 40-year-old won $20,000 for the best knockout of the night and split his prize to Harry Garside and Sam Goodman, who both won earlier on the night.

with AAP

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