Paul Gallen has ended his decorated sporting career with one final victory, taking down Justin Hodges in a unanimous decision win on Wednesday night (60-54 (x2), 59-55).
“That was good,” Gallen said post-fight.
“I had to do what I had to do. I didn’t take any risks, I just used my left hand as much as I could do. Not many people get to go out on a victory but luckily I got to do it tonight.
“He broke my heart a couple of times [on the field] so it is good to get one back. He’s a warrior.”
While it was another dominant win for Gallen, who finishes with a 16-2-1 record, he admitted he has had enough.
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“I’m just glad it’s over,” Gallen said.
“I’ve had enough, 41 turning 42. I can just feel it in sparring and training, I’m just slowing down. With all respect to Hodgo, 12 months ago I probably would have won a bit more convincingly.
“But everything slows down at some stage and I think it’s hit me and it’s time to pull the pin.”
When asked about the role he has played in lifting the profile of Australian boxing, Gallen paid credit to some of the sport’s true superstars like Tim Tszyu, who is fighting Jermell Charlo for the world title in January.
Although, Gallen could not help but put in a cheeky request for business class tickets to fly to Las Vegas for the fight.
“I can’t take credit for that. I might have given him a platform but without his dedication to the sport and his willingness to get in there and do it he wouldn’t be where he is.”
“Hopefully No Limit can fly me over for everything I’ve done for them. What do you reckon everyone? Business class?”
Hodges came out aggressive, going for the hooking right hand in the first round and jabbing well to keep Gallen at distance.
“He’s jabbing better than we’ve seen previously,” said Ben Damon in commentary.
“Gallen hasn’t got in tight with him as much as he usually does.”
Gallen though immediately came out in the second round with a double jab, following his corner’s advice as he upped the aggression and gaining the advantage.
It prompted Hodges’ corner to urge him to follow up the jab with the right hand, the shot that Damon agreed he needed to continue to go back to if he was to trouble Gallen.
Gallen though emerged the more aggressive of the two in the third round, backing Hodges up to the ropes and following it up with three strong shots before working around the top to the shoulder.
Gallen continued to press forward, working the body and looking for the knockout blow, although Hodges would survive once more to take it to four rounds.
At that point it was Gallen (28-4) with the clear advantage when it came to body punches, with Hodges (40-37) taking a different approach and continuing to target the head.
As Damon pointed out, the fatigued then started to “set in” for Hodges and Gallen immediately noticed, pressing forward as he looked to finish his rival.
But Hodges continued to hold on, although he was still in need of a finish himself having fallen behind on the scoreboards as the rounds progressed.
The right hand was supposed to be his money shot, although Gallen could see it coming and left Hodges needing something more.
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“He’s got two-and-a-half minutes to go, if he wants to win he’s got to take a risk,” said Jeff Fenech in commentary.
The pair exchanged a series of blows in the final round as both searched for the finish, with the pro-Gallen crowd chanting his name but in the end it would be a decision victory to end his career.
“Gallen has done enough but Hodges gave everything,” Damon said.
“The rematch goes the distance. Paul Gallen will finish his unbelievable sporting career with a victory against a Queenslander. He has been relentless across two sports and there was some serious feeling in there tonight.”
While it was not the result Hodges wanted, both Damon and Fenech agreed it was impressive to see Hodges go the full six rounds.
“The thinking was he would need something big early or he would be stopped late except he finished well,” Damon said.
“What more can he do? What more can he give?” asked Fenech.
“Six two-and-a-half minute rounds is a bit of a shock for me, that he finished.”