Paul Gallen has confirmed his boxing career is officially over after a unanimous points decision victory over Justin Hodges on Wednesday night. Gallen made a triumphant end to his 21-year professional sporting career in the State of Origin-style grudge match in Sydney.
Gallen couldn't find the knockout blow that NSW fans were hoping for. But the former NSW and Cronulla forward still packed too many punches for his long-time former Queensland rival and was awarded the win 60-54, 60-54, 59-55 by the three judges.
'WHAT AN UPSET: Sonny Bill Williams KO'd by UFC legend
Speaking after the fight, Gallen confirmed his boxing career is over. The 41-year-old paid a classy tribute to Hodges despite some bad blood between the pair.
"He broke my heart plenty of times, Hodgo, so it was good to get one back at him but he's a warrior," Gallen said. "He's got power. I wasn't prepared to take too many risks tonight so I just did what I needed to do, used my jab.
"But I got the win and not too many people get to go out on a victory, especially in boxing so it was good to do it tonight. I'm just glad it's all over - I've had enough. I'm 41 going on 42. You've got to slow down at some stage and it's hit me now so it's time to pull the pin."
Gallen bows out of boxing with an impressive 15-2-1 record. His only defeats came against Justis Huni and Kris Tervieski for the Australian heavyweight title. He gallantly went the distance in both bouts, only to lose on points.
A courageous victory over UFC legend Mark Hunt and a stunning first-round knockout of one-time WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne were the highlights of his pugilistic career. Gallen said he ranks going toe-to-toe with Huni as a stand-out memory.
In rugby league, the ironman achieved more than most players could dream of. Gallen captained Cronulla to their one and only NRL premiership in 2016, NSW to a drought-breaking State of Origin series win over Queensland in 2014 and also won a World Cup in 2013 amid 32 Test matches for Australia.
Sporting world pays tribute to Paul Gallen
One of the toughest players ever to lace on a boot, Gallen this week claimed to have grossed over $25 million in the past three years of boxing. The 41-year-old said he is unfazed about the physical toll his chosen sports took on him, despite brain trauma affecting a swathe of retired greats.
"It's part of life. What can I do about it? I've played over 400 games of rugby league. I've had 15 or 20 fights," he said. "What's the point of worrying about it? This CT (issue), all that sort of stuff, I'm not trying to downplay it but you don't find out about it until you're dead anyway, or you don't know til you're dead.
"I've got a wonderful family, a beautiful wife. I'm loving life. I'm in a good place financially. I don't need the money any more so what's there to worry about? Whatever comes up in the future, comes up and I'll deal with it then."
Fans and commentators took to social media to congratulate Gallen on his sporting career.
Paul Gallen’s boxing career was quite phenomenal. Final record 15-2-1, headlined big time shows, gave an amazing platform to emerging fighters, fought for an Aussie title and never ever cheated the sport. Always showed up in shape & respected the craft. #GallenHodges2
— Corbin Middlemas (@CorbinMiddlemas) November 23, 2022
— Brendan Bradford (@1bbradfo) November 23, 2022
You are a Warrior Gal !!! , sit back now and enjoy life
— Paul james gosper (@gosper_paul) November 23, 2022
— Jett Hatton (@KnowsJett) November 23, 2022
Click here to sign up to our newsletter for all the latest and breaking stories from Australia and around the world.