Fitter, stronger and faster, are the advantages Paul Gallen will look to take into his ninth professional boxing match when he takes on former NRL player and ex-Australian boxing title holder John Hopoate tomorrow night at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney.
Gallen takes an 8-0 record into the bout and after combining an arduous NRL pre-season with boxing training and fight preparations, with the Sharks skipper is ready to win on Friday and then turn his full attention back to the rugby league field.
“Juggling the boxing and the footy has been tough but I’m coming to the end of it now,” Gallen said. “I’m confident and I think I stop him without a doubt. Fitness is one advantage for me but I think I beat him because I’m a better boxer to be honest.”
Talking alongside the 45-year-old Hopoate in a promotional podcast at the News Limited offices, Gallen was so convinced he would emerge from tomorrow’s bout with his unbeaten record intact, he stated that a loss would end his boxing career.
“If you beat me on Friday, I won’t fight again,” he said to Hopoate in the podcast. “That’s how confident I am. If Hoppa beats me on Friday night, I will not fight again, it’s that simple.”
Gallen and Hopoate headline an impressive fight card that includes Tim Tszyu, son of former world champion Kostya, as well as Justin Hodges, the retired Queensland and Broncos star making his professional boxing debut.
But away from the ring and back to what he does best, Gallen hasn’t missed a beat on the Sharks training paddock as he prepares for his 19th NRL season.
A typical day has seen the Cronulla skipper complete a field session with the NRL squad, squeeze in some sparring, before returning for an afternoon strength session in the Sharks gym.
Coming to the end of what has been an injury free summer for Gallen, Sharks Head Coach John Morris expects his Captain to be fit and firing for the start of the 2019 season.
“This is Gal’s 19th pre-season so he knows how to navigate his way through it,” Morris said. “For some of the older players we keep them off their legs to an extent and manage their running load anyway, so the boxing definitely assists Gal with his conditioning.
“He’s always come back from his fights in good shape and I don’t expect anything different this time.
“He’ll be ready for our second trial and ready for the Knights in round one. Gal has again been the leader of our group through the pre-season and is very driven. He wants to make his last year in the NRL a successful one,” Morris added.
Fans can subscribe to the Gallen-Hopoate fight through Foxtel Main Event, with those without Foxtel or unable to get to the Hordern Pavilion tomorrow evening invited to come to Sharks Leagues Club and to take in all the action on the big screen in the Locker Room. The undercard begins in Main Event at 7.00pm.
There are also a limited number of general admission tickets still available.