Paul Gallen will step into the ring one final time on Wednesday for the last fight of his career when he faces off against old foe and fellow rugby league legend Justin Hodges.
But first the pair faced off at Monday’s press conference and were quick to fire up, with Hodges claiming he is even preparing for the fight by learning a “cheap shot” or two.
“I have to [practice cheap shots]. He he does,” Hodges said.
“I heard he’s been doing it so why not? I’ve been learning off some good opponents back home and why not. If the ref doesn’t break it up. You’ll just have to tune in on Wednesday.”
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Gal & Hodges CLASH over round lengths | 01:07
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Gallen though did not seem too worried by Hodges’ claim, suggesting his longtime rival will struggle in the ring now that he is no longer coming in after Ben Hannant.
For context, in case you missed the first fight between the pair, Gallen faced off against and defeated Hannant first before turning his attention to Hodges — all in the one night.
“You’re in there by yourself this time,” Gallen said.
“What are you going to do? You must be s***ing yourself. You’re not the third man this time. You’re walking in by yourself, I won’t be tired, you won’t have your 110-kilo front rower doing all the damage yourself.
“You’ll be f***ed. He’s in all sorts and I know he’s in all sorts.”
It was just the start of a fiery back-and-forth between the duo, with an alleged illegal punch from Gallen again the topic of discussion after controversy in the pair’s last fight.
The back-and-forth though was sparked by a question from Main Event’s Ben Damon as to whether Hodges knew how long the rounds would be for Wednesday’s rematch.
FULL GALLEN VS HODGES TRANSCRIPT
HODGES: “Nah, I don’t know.”
Gallen: “It’s six two-and-a-half minute rounds. Wow. Two-and-a-half minutes. First time ever.”
HODGES: “There’s a first time for everything Gal.”
Gallen: “There’s a first time for everything but you’re not a man of your word. That many people text me saying: ‘Mate, he’s not a real Queenslander, all Queenslanders really have is their word about him and he’s gone back on his word about him’. He stood in the ring that night and said he’d fight six threes [minute rounds]. He’s gone back on it and wanted to fight six twos. It was apparently a health concern if you fought six, three-minute rounds. That’s how much of an embarrassment it is.”
HODGES: “What about you? You’ve come out and said you’ve got headaches and now you want to get punched even more.”
Gallen: “When did I say I’ve got headaches?”
HODGES: “You’re an idiot.”
Gallen: “I never once said I’ve got a headache.”
HODGES: “You’ve come out on Instagram or Facebook and said you get headaches and you want to fight longer?”
Gallen: “You show me where I’ve ever said that.”
HODGES: “Don’t worry about the six threes, just worry about the first two rounds. If you get through that, then don’t worry about it.”
Gallen: “First two rounds? Remember the last fight. Two rounds, you had the tape to pull the trainer off after two, two-and-a-half minute rounds.”
HODGES: “Is that after the cheap shot you gave me?”
Gallen: “You keep bringing up the cheap shot. Did you forget your cheap shots?”
HODGES: “Which one?”
Gallen: “When the referee called break and was in between us and you cracked me with the right hand but it’s OK because you apologise?”
HODGES: “Yeah, I apologised.”
Gallen: “So, it’s OK because you apologised?”
HODGES: “This time I won’t be.”
‘I’ve been working hard on cheap shots’ | 00:29
Gallen: “Mate, when I hit you the referee wasn’t in between us and there was no break, I had every right to hit you. That last fight epitomized your career. Last one in whenever there was any issue but you never went first.”
HODGES: “You’re lucky I didn’t go first. If I went first you wouldn’t have had two fights. You would’ve been wrecked like you’re going to get wrecked soon.”
Gallen: “You’re the last one, when all the damage has been done. You’re like the big dog walking out the end of it. You’ve done f*** all and carrying on nothing.”
HODGES: “You’re supposed to be the big dog and you’re carrying on about rounds and minutes and all this crap.”
Gallen: “You lost.”
HODGES: “Yeah, because you had the ref in your corner.”
Gallen: “Yeah, I had a Queensland ref in my corner, that’s smart. You’re an idiot.
HODGES: “You’re an idiot.”
Gallen: “You’re trying to say a Queensland ref, up in Queensland, in my corner on my side. Are you tying to say he supported me?”
HODGES: “Well, he didn’t support me.”
“Because he did his job. He saved you from getting iced.”
HODGES: “So, you’ve got no power?”
Gallen: “It’s a TKO. Look at the record. We’ll see.”
ZERAFA SENDS MESSAGE TO TSZYU, BRANDS RIVAL ‘DELUSIONAL’
Michael Zerafa also had a chance to fire a few verbal shots at a “delusional” Danilo Creati before their bout while rival Tim Tszyu chimed in with a surprise phone call.
For Zerafa, this week’s fight represents a chance to put himself right in the frame for a blockbuster bout in Australia against boxing superstar Gennady Golovkin.
Creati though is looking to play spoiler and does not seem to think Zerafa is the serious title contender he makes himself out to be.
Tszyu calls Gal & TRASHES Zerafa | 01:06
“I’ve been training a lot, part of my training was even watching two hours of his fights,” Creati said.
“I literally know every one of his movements, his favorite combo, what he does, when he jabs body, how many times he blinks from when he wakes up to when he goes to sleep so I think he’s not understanding the trouble he’s putting himself [into].
“Every fight is not impressing me. He always mentioned how he fought bigger caliber fighters but he lost and lost and lost. Maybe this is an experience that he is speaking about and an experience he will need on Wednesday for the fight.”
Zerafa was quick to fire back, branding Creati “delusional” and vowing he would “silence” his rival once and for all on Wednesday.
“I think he’s delusional,” Zerafa said.
“He went the distance with a guy with two wins and 71 losses. Saying I haven’t fought anybody, I’ve fought everybody in Australia and seven or eight world champions, been all around the world.
“For me, I’m 30-4 and 30 of those fighters, I’ve stopped 20 of them. He’s stopped one of them. I’m excited and can’t wait to silence him once and for all.”
If a bit of trash talking from his rival was not enough, Zerafa then had to deal with a phone call from Tszyu, who wanted to know if he was “going to turn up” for this fight.
Zerafa, of course, caused plenty of controversy when he pulled out just a week before his scheduled fight with Tszyu last July.
“From one idiot to the next,” Zerafa said.
“Tell him I’ll be turning up to his one and helping pick him up off the ground when Charlo knocks him out.”
Tszyu is scheduled to fight Jermell Charlo for the undisputed super welterweight title in January next year.
EX NRL STAR’S BOLD PREDICTION AHEAD OF PRO DEBUT
Earlier, Siosiua Taukeiaho confidently declared he will knock out rival and former NRL hardman Jaiman Lowe in his first professional fight.
There is plenty of hype for Taukeiaho but Lowe, who has the one professional fight to his name, is being largely overlooked and it has not gone unnoticed.
“Everyone’s eulogized me, including my middle-daughter,” he said.
“She reckons I’m going to get killed. It’s interesting everyone’s got him such a heavy favorite when no one has seen him fight and very limited people have seen me fight. Let’s see what happens.
“I know what I can do. We’ll find out on Wednesday.”
Lowe predicted someone would be knocked out in Wednesday’s fight and Taukeiaho agreed, confident he can expose one of his opponent’s bigger weaknesses.
“I haven’t really shown much yet,” the former Sydney Roosters prop said.
“I’ve had a good training the last couple of weeks. I guess I’ll have to show everyone on Wednesday. I’m really excited. I’m ready to bring the smoke. He’ll bring power, that’s for sure.
“I’m pretty sure there’s no speed in that, I’ll work around him and see how we go, if not I’ll close it in round two. I definitely want to win if not I’ll knock him out.”
‘I don’t enjoy this’ – Gal calls time | 01:08
There will be plenty of other fights to look forward to on Wednesday, with Paulo Aokuso looking to build on the 2-0 start to his professional career.
Elsewhere, South Sydney Rabbitohs forward Daniel Suluka-Fifita will become the latest NRL star to enter the ring when he faces Bryce Jones in a heavyweight scrap.
FULL FIGHT CARD
Michael Zerafa vs. Danilo Creati — middleweight
Paul Gallen vs. Justin Hodges II — heavyweight
Paulo Aokuso vs. David Zegarra — light heavyweight
Ty Telford vs. Joel Taylor — welterweight
Liam Talivaa vs. Louis Marsters — heavyweight
Daniel Suluka-Fifita vs. Bryce Jones — heavyweight
Shanell Dargan vs. Chandni Mehra — featherweight
Tommy Browne vs. Jorge Kapeen — super welterweight
Micky Pengue vs. Ben Hussain — super welterweight
George Peterson vs. Gary Phillips — heavyweight
Tywarna Campbell vs. Deanha Hobbs — super featherweight