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Gallen takes down Hodges in crazy, dramatic fight… but ‘bulls–t’ stoppage has rematch on the cards

Justin Hodges wasted no time after his KO defeat to Paul Gallen in a memorable ‘Origin Rumble’ fight to call for a rematch, describing the decision by the referee to stop the fight.

Hodges had been rocked by a series of Gallen punches in the third round, with the ref’s decision to call an end slammed by the Queenslander in his post-fight interview.

“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 [fight organisers] Matty and George [Rose]. I want a rematch, because that was bulls—.”

While less than three rounds long, the bout between the old foes provided entertainment aplenty for the Nissan Arena crowd, with flying fists, controversy and the odd cheap shot making for an action-packed clash.

Hodges claimed the first round with a barnstorming start, throwing everything at Gallen, who seemed to be feeling the effects of a tiring win over Ben Hannant just an hour prior.

It seemed to be Hodges’ fight to lose early in the second when a savage right hook knocked Gallen to the mat – but from there, the 41-year old would take control.

With Hodges, 40, beginning to tire, Gallen’s experience in the ring would show, recovering to land some heavy hits of his own to end the round on a high.

In between, there was no shortage of drama, with Gallen repeatedly warned by the referee against hitting Hodges in the back of the head.

Hodges had earlier caught Gallen on the chin with a blatantly late right hook after the pair had been told to break from a clinch; but that was nothing compared to what came next.

Paul Gallen punches Justin Hodges.

Paul Gallen punches Justin Hodges during their bout at Nissan Arena. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Gallen forced Hodges back into the ropes, and as the Queenslander’s head and upper body careened out of the ring, the Cronulla great struck a vicious hook to the chin.

“He was pushed over the rope and hit Ben. How illegal is it?” former boxer Jeff Fenech said on Main Event.

“I know they’re football players, but…”

Fellow commentator Ben Damon was in agreement, describing the round as ‘absurd’.

“I’m surprised no one lost any points in the round, some of the stuff we saw,” he said.

Remarkably, the ref’s only response to the last hit was to demand a dazed Hodges ‘get up’.

With the Queenslander beginning to struggle, not even a cynical move from his corner to buy him more time, with the tape on his gloves falling off moments before the round was due to start, could protect him from a Gallen onslaught.

A series of shots to Hodges’ head saw the referee intervene and stop the fight – while the decision was correct, the Broncos legend and his team were up in arms.

The ref had no time for an angry Matt Rose storming into the ring to protest, responding bluntly: “Get the f–k out of the ring!”

After the fight, Gallen was keen to engage with Hodge’s request for a rematch, in what looms as the final bout of his career.

“‘Hodgo’ [Hodges] just asked if I’d give him a rematch and I said, ‘Yeah’,” Gallen said.

“So, that’s up to No Limit and that’s up to you boys.”

However, Gallen was quick to set some provisos for a rematch should it occur, with a mid-November date expected.

“It wouldn’t be over two-minute rounds; it’d be my six [three-minute rounds], which is fair enough,” he said.

“And we’d be doing it in Sydney. We did this one in Queensland, we’ll be doing the next in Sydney.

“If No Limit’s up for that, I’m up for that.”

Earlier, Gallen had withstood a serious challenge from a gutsy but outclassed Ben Hannant, who did his best to wear the New South Welshman out ahead of his fight with Hodges.

After an early onslaught, a tiring Hannant was no match for Gallen, though he did strike a fearsome blow in the final round that left him bleeding from the cheek.

Bowing to the crowd after the fight, Hannant had well and truly held his own, and speaking after the fight, he was chuffed with his performance in the ring.

“I’m not a fighter and everyone knows that but I went out swinging,” he said.

“I don’t know what to do, so when I got in close he kept uppercutting and jabbing me. It was good, it was a good wake-up call.

“The best way to learn is to get hit. I don’t pretend to be a fighter.”

The other fights for the evening also featured drama involving Gallen, with Australian heavyweight Joseph Goodall throwing down the gauntlet after his bizarre win over Arsene Fosso.

After Goodall dominated the early stages, Fosso laid down to surrender, despite having not taken a hit in the lead-up.

The victor was quick to turn his attention to Gallen after the fight.

“Paul Gallen, I’ve been calling out you for years, years,” Goodall said.

“You’ve been ducking and dodging. [Justis] Huni beat him, Kris Terzievski beat him, but that wasn’t good enough.

“That wasn’t enough punishment, that wasn’t enough blood.

“I’m the one to give him a bloody hiding. I’m the Queenslander, I’m the Queenslander here!

“Fight me or f–k off and go away and live the rest of your life as a p—y.”

However, Gallen wasn’t quite as keen on fighting Goodall as he was in a rematch with Hodges, accusing the heavyweight of merely chasing a ‘payday’.

“I can’t understand boxers calling out a 41-year-old bloke who’s about to retire,” he quipped on Main Event.

“Everyone wants a payday. But I don’t know what fighting me does for his career.

“I understand people want to call me out and that’s fine. But I’ve got one fight left on contract and that won’t be Joe Goodall.”

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