Paul Gallen came away with two wins from his boxing double header but the standard of refereeing in his epic victory over Justin Hodges has come under serious scrutiny.
It was a wild night for the former NSW State of Origin captain, defeating NRL greats Ben Hannant and Hodges on the same night in Brisbane on Thursday.
Hodges came out all guns blazing and landed several heavy shots as he took the upper hand in the first round on Thursday night.
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He continued the onslaught early in the second round but when the pair clinched and were told to break apart, Hodges threw a very late right hand that connected flush with Gallen’s chin and rocked him.
“He didn’t like that and he certainly felt the shot,” Main Event commentator Ben Damon said.
“It was a big right hand that came right on the break.”
Hodges apologised but wasn’t penalised for the action. Then in the very next exchange, he landed another punch that sent Gallen crashing to the canvas on all fours.
Damon said: “The shot on the break had him rocked, and then that one sat him down. And now he’s in trouble!”
Gallen got back to his feet and fought on in typical fashion, but soon all hell broke loose.
He pushed Hodges back against the ropes, tipping his opponent so he was perched nearly horizontal over the top of the ropes and in danger of toppling out of the ring.
Still in that position, Gallen then hit Hodges with a brutal shot that turned the momentum of the fight.
Hodges was bruised and dropped down to one knee, only to be told to “get up” by the referee, who Damon said was “losing control” of the fight.
Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech added: “He was pushed over the rope and hit Ben. How illegal is it? I know they’re football players but …”
“That’s absurd,” Damon continued.
“I’m surprised no one lost any points in the round, some of the stuff we saw.”
Fenech said: “If Justin Hodges stays down, he wins a point (and wins) by disqualification.”
The mayhem continued when the start of the third round was delayed because the tape on Hodges’ glove was dangling off — a move the commentators quickly called out as a deliberate ploy by his team to give him more recovery time.
“They’ve done that on purpose, of course,” Fenech said.
“The referee’s lost total control,” he added.
Gallen finished off the job soon after to claim the win via TKO, but No Limit promoter Matt Rose stormed into the ring to confront the referee.
The referee responded: “F*** off. Get the f*** out of the ring. Get out of the ring!”
Hodges was visibly filthy the referee had stopped the fight and said he wanted to continue.
The Queenslander branded the referee’s stoppage “absolute bulls***” and Gallen immediately agreed to a rematch in the ring straight after the fight.
Gallen has one fight left on his contract and wants to fight Hodges again in November in a rematch with six three-minute rounds.
“I know the ref’s got a job to do, but there was no way in the world I was hurt,” Hodges said.
“It’s absolute bullcrap. But I’m an ultimate professional, I take it on the chin.
“If Gal wants to do six three-minute rounds, it’s up to (No Limit’s) Matty and George (Rose). I want a rematch because that was bulls***.”
There was no love lost between the two fighters in the lead-up but Gallen was full of praise for Hodges, who he said knocked the life out of him with a brutal shot.
“That was really tough,” he said after the fight.
“Getting up again, it was probably harder than I thought it was going to be, to be honest.
“I got dropped by Herman Purcell in my first ever fight, (Justis) Huni semi dropped me. Other than that, that’s the first time I’ve been put down by a shot that’s absolutely stung me and rocked my brains.
“Got me fair and square. It took me five seconds to get up and make sure I was OK and suck some deep breaths in.”
He’ll be back to do it all one final time.