Paul Gallen a blank canvas as a professional boxer
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We learnt more about Paul Gallen’s boxing potential when he hit the canvas during round one.
Gallen was left rocked and dazed, a feeling he said he had never experienced during his 13-year NRL career. His composure to come back and land a flurry of punches to end the fight against Herman Ene-Purcell in the next round showed Gallen’s toughness.
Instead of thinking of the likes of ex-NRL players turned boxers Carl Webb and Lance Thompson, who flirted with the sport with mixed success, look more towards Anthony Mundine or Solomon Haumono, who have made successful transitions into the ring.
Gallen’s fitness was an obvious advantage on Monday night but his punching power also impressed. At 32, Gallen is contracted with the Sharks until the end of 2015. He has indicated he will look for another fight at the end of the rugby league season.
Former Australian heavyweight champion Haumono sparred Gallen last year as the Cronulla skipper prepared for his charity fight victory against Liam Messam. Haumono said Gallen’s biggest obstacle was transforming his football body to a physique adequate for boxing.
“I’m sure ‘Gal’ will say being lighter he’d feel more contact,” Haumono said. “You need to have weight behind the punches, and I adapted to the size and got comfortable with it.
“He was still learning when we sparred. I think he has the desire to do it. I’m a big believer in focusing on one sport. Gal has captained NSW and is a remarkable athlete, I’m sure if he puts his mind to it can rise to levels only he knows.”
Haumono said he had no desire to fight Gallen. Australia’s only world champion, Sakio Bika, has watched Gallen train and was ringside to witness his debut on Monday night. Bika said Gallen could mix it with Australia’s best heavyweights.
“I know he can box,” Bika said. “If he said he wants to quit rugby league to become a professional boxer then he’d have to challenge a really good opponent.
“He has speed and he has heart but it depends on his age. If he really wanted to fight in Australia he can beat so many Australian heavyweights. He has that physicality and that look.”
Former four-time world champion Danny Green said it was too early to say how far Gallen would progress in boxing but said the early indications were extremely positive.
“I liked that he showed poise, he was calm, he was relaxed and as cool as a cucumber,” Green said. “During the staredown as the referee went through the instructions he was smiling and really enjoying it – and that’s important.
“I thought he did real well and I thought his own assessment of his performance was spot-on.
“He got hit from out of the blue, never been dropped before, but he got up, and typical ‘Gal’ there’s no quit in him so he marched forward and kept going and got the win in the end.
“It was very entertaining and good to watch. The punches he threw before the fight ended were nice shots. When the guy dropped his hands and invited Gallen to hit him – and he did with a nice uppercut – I thought ‘madness’.
“It was a solid performance by Paul. [Ene-Purcell] had two fights, so it wasn’t as though he hadn’t fought before. I sent him a text and said he should enjoy the win, you have to enjoy the win, it was a good effort.”
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