Paul Gallen is banged up, but “proud” after very nearly going 10 rounds with Australian boxing’s next big thing.
After finally succumbing to Justis Huni’s punishment with less than two minutes left in their heavyweight title bout, Gallen believes he should have been allowed to finish, but credits his towering giant with being the best boxer he’s ever faced.
As for his health, Gallen’s having a hard time getting out of bed after suffering a rib cartilage injury in the second round. The 39-year-old wasn’t able to maintain the sort of pace and pressure we’ve become accustomed to seeing from him.
Part of that was Huni being a level above. Part of it was the pain.
“Every move I made, every time I moved or tried to twist at all, it was cracking and grinding the whole time,” Gallen told foxsports.com.au. “Clicking, as rib cartilage does.
“I struggled. I really struggled from the second round on. I had very little movement, I was a sitting duck a lot of the time, and I was just surviving, to be honest with you. I couldn’t even throw punches at times. So, it was quite a hard fight.”
Gallen added: “It’s the same thing I did in 2015 Origin. The only difference was in Origin I got to come off and have painkilling injections and then go back on.
“In the ring, you don’t get to stop.”
With all that being said, Gallen (11-1-1), who suffered his first professional defeat, is making no excuses. After all, Huni is “the one who caused it.”
“I don’t want to take anything away from his victory last night,” a gracious Gallen said. “Nothing at all. He deserved it. He did what he trained to do.”
Gallen was brave on Wednesday night. He kept coming through a barrage of shots, to the head and also the body, that did little to help his already crook ribcage. And while he admits his 10th round date with the floor was a knockdown, he isn’t so sure it should have seen the fight waved off.
“If you look at it, I slipped on the signage,” he said. “Justis slipped on it multiple times throughout the fight.
“He landed the punch, and if you watch my front foot, he landed the punch as I slipped. It was a knockdown, without a doubt, but I slipped as well.
“When I got up, I got up and I was fine, I held my hands up at six, seven seconds and said, ‘I’m fine to go.’
“With a minute and a half to go over 10 rounds, I would have liked to have finished or been taken out. Had I been hurt, the referee might have got in trouble. I don’t know, it’s a hard one.”
The fact it was left up to referee John Cauchi is a talking point in itself as those watching on again failed to see Huni show high-level heavyweight power.
“I suppose if he had the power of Lucas Browne or Mark Hunt, then maybe I would have been gone early,” Gallen said.
“But I don’t know, it’s hard to say … he’s the best boxer I’ve faced in sparring or in the ring, obviously. He’s slick, he moves well, he’s got good combinations.”
The result brings an end to a six-month stretch that has seen Gallen outlast Mark Hunt, finish Lucas Browne, and nearly go 10 rounds with Huni.
“There wouldn’t be another bloke in Australia that would have done that,” he said. “I think I can be really proud of what I’ve done in the last six months.”
Gallen says he genuinely doesn’t know if he’ll trigger his rematch clause when Huni returns from Tokyo. Either way, he’s happy.
“At the end of the day, it took an Olympian to beat me,” he said.
“Twelve fights, no losses and it took an Olympian to beat me. And he only just got me out of there with a minute-and-a-half to go, which was probably questionable.
“So, I’m extremely proud of myself.”