'Frustrates me': Paul Gallen directs brutal spray at boxing fans

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·Sports Reporter
·4-min read
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Paul Gallen says it is 'frustrating' that fight cards featuring former NRL players attract criticism from boxing fans, but also substantially bigger crowds. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)
Paul Gallen says it is 'frustrating' that fight cards featuring former NRL players attract criticism from boxing fans, but also substantially bigger crowds. (Photo by Mark Evans/Getty Images)

Former NRL player Paul Gallen has bounced back from his loss to Justis Huni earlier this year, earning a third round stoppage against Darcy Lussick.

The main event of three two minute rounds headlined what was billed as 'Footy Fight Night', featuring an array of former NRL players on the undercard to Gallen.

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Gallen looked like he could have a fight on his hands in the first round as Lussick charged out of the gate, putting the Sharks legend on the ropes early.

Some of Lussick's success in the early running came thanks to an illegal move which went unnoticed by the referee, with Lussick landing some blows while holding Gallen behind the neck.

Gallen was unperturbed though, withstanding the Lussick barrage before eventually knocking him down late in the second round.

By this point Gallen had found his range against the former Manly and Parramatta prop, earning the stoppage and improving to a 12-1-1 record.

After the fight, Gallen took the opportunity to call out critics who have suggested events like Wednesday night's were a novelty and bad for boxing.

The 'Footy Fight Night' card also featured the likes of Joey Leilua, Taylan May, Freddie Lussick and Justin Hodges.

There was a strong crowd in attendance for what was undoubtedly a lower standard of boxing that what had been seen the previous night, headlined by former Australian champion Andrew Moloney.

"I watched last night when a former world champion fought in front of deadset 100 people," he said.

"Where's all these people who want to bag me for boxing? (Why aren't they) watching the Moloney boys?

"It really frustrates me."

Gallen went on to call out those who mocked the quality of the matches seen on Wednesday night, again questioning why the prior Moloney card didn't garner more attention if those critics wanted to see professional fighters, rather than former football players.

"A lot of people here copped a lot of flack because they're footy players," Gallen said.

"Well there were boxers here last night, but there were 300 people here.

"Where's all these boxing people supporting boxers?"

Disgraced NRL player in ugly boxing farce

Despite Gallen's comments, the previous night's card did actually feature a former NRL player as well - however Tim Simona's days in the ring could be numbered after a disastrous debut.

Simona, the former Wests Tigers player who was booted from the league in disgrace back in 2016 over a series of betting scandals, was handily beaten by Aaron Cocco in his cruiserweight debut at The Star.

The bout was eventually stopped by the fight doctor in the third of four rounds, with an ailing Simona essentially unable to put up any defence against Cocco's punches.

Simona had been clearly outclassed from the first bell, leaving Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech upset with both the referee and Simona's corner.

Fenech said it was obvious the fight should have been stopped well before it actually was, praising the doctor for his decision.

After former NRL player Tim Simona took a beating from Aaron Cocco in his cruiserweight debut, the fight doctor had to step in to end the fight. Pictures: Fox Sports
After former NRL player Tim Simona took a beating from Aaron Cocco in his cruiserweight debut, the fight doctor had to step in to end the fight. Pictures: Fox Sports

“Great work by the doctor, that’s what it was. It’s a great job because the referee should’ve stopped it, and the corner should’ve stopped it," Fenech said.

"I’m not gonna pull any punches here - to me, that’s not a good look.

“Of course the fight should’ve been stopped. The referee’s standing there watching this guy get hit without coming back."

Fenech said Simona's inexperience had shown after the promising first round, in which the former NRL star was clearly the better fighter.

He soon ran out of gas though, with Fenech quipping that it would have been a learning experience compared to his days on the footy field.

“In the first round it was Simona that opened up landing 10 or 12 punches ... it looked like Cocco was gonna do what Simona did," Fenech said.

“I think he learned it’s a little bit harder than playing football. But he put up a great show, the first round I thought this might be a huge win for him, but the doctor’s done the right thing and I take my hat off to him.”

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