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Paul Gallen vows to retire John Hopoate in clash of rugby league hardmen

Anthony Cocks

Australian-based boxing journalist Anthony Cocks has been covering the sport for over 15 years for various print and online publications. He refuses to believe that Roberto Duran ever lost to Tommy Hearns and says that Jeff Fenech would destroy Chuck Norris, Bruce Lee and Muhammad Ali on the same night.

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Rugby league hardman Paul Gallen 8-0 (4) has vowed to send former Australian heavyweight champion and ex-rugby league player John Hopoate 12-5 (11) back into retirement when the two meet at the Hordern Pavilion in Sydney, Australia on February 8.

The 37-year-old Cronulla Sharks captain made the comments in a video filmed by teammate Andrew Fifita and posted to social media.

Hopoate, 44, who won the national crown against Bob Mirovic in 2008 before losing it to Colin Wilson the following year, had his last fight nine years ago when he was disqualified in two rounds against New Zealand’s Shane Cameron.

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“Hoppa, I promise you one thing, it’ll be the last professional sports thing you ever do,” said Gallen in the footage.

Fifita chimed in with his own take on the fight.

“He’s coming for ya, he’s coming for ya… Hopoate,” added Fifita.

Gallens comments can be seen as a response to Hopoate’s comments in December when their fight was announced.

“I’m here to win. I’m going to put Gal into retirement with his coach, they can sit with each other on the sidelines,” Hopoate said.

Hopoate, whose rugby league career was curtailed by some ugly on-field incidents, had previously labelled Gallen a ‘coward’ for initially knocking back the fight.

“He talks up a big show, he accepted the fight and now they’re telling me he won’t sign the contract,” Hopoate told the Sunday Telegraph.

“Either sign the contract or retire from boxing. He knows what’s happening if he jumps in the ring with me, that he’s getting knocked out, and that’s why he’s running scared and won’t sign.”

Gallen has balanced his part-time boxing career with his full-time gig playing in the National Rugby League, fighting in the off-season during the Australian summer. His last fight was against debutante Puna Rasaubale who he outpointed over six rounds in November 2017.

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