Classy move as hopeless Hoppa flattened
Paul Gallen won't be quitting boxing in the near future on the strength of his second round obliteration of former NRL sparring partner John Hopoate.
Gallen vowed to give the game fight away if he lost to Hopoate in their charity bout in Sydney on Friday night, but will punch on after flattening the 45-year-old with a second round knockout.
Hopoate was so confident of victory he wanted his $50,000 fight purse in advance because he wanted to bet on himself at odds of 5/1, which would have netted him $250,000. Thankfully he wasn't allowed to make that mistake.
Hopoate also pledged to "retire Gal from boxing and the NRL" during the pre-match banter - but soon had to weigh up his own future inside a packed Horden Pavilion.
"I got caught by a good punch and I can't hide from that, I went to sleep and fell over," he admitted.
Hopoate knew he was beaten by a better fighter and was humble in defeat, coming into Gallen's dressing room after the fight to pay his respects.
Gallen too put the pre-fight animosity aside and paid tribute to his opponent in a classy Instagram post on Saturday morning.
"This guy is no angel neither am I but he has always been upfront and honest with me," Gallen wrote. "He's achieved everything as a league player and been a champion boxer, I treat people the way they treat me.
"We did what we had to the last few weeks but I can honestly say I like Hoppa, he's not all that we see publicly. Look forward to catching up in the future mate. All the best."
Gallen dominated from the opening bell, with a succession of jabs setting the tone for a one-sided heavyweight contest.
Hopoate, in the ring for the first time in nine years, sought to grapple and frustrate Gallen, but when the Sharks veteran found openings he sensed blood. Gallen had Hopoate on the ropes, and in strife, late in the opening round and although the bell prevented further punishment it was only a short reprieve.
Hopoate headed to the canvas early in the second, the stoppage coming quicker than Gallen anticipated. There was genuine concern for Hopoate's health after he was felled as he lay motionless on the canvas for a few seconds before eventually being helped to his feet.
Gallen revealed his compassion towards Hopoate when he knew he had him beaten, saying he didn't want to keep hitting him when the result was a foregone conclusion.
And despite all the pre-fight trash talk, the former NSW skipper was all class after landing the killer blow, going over to Hopoate to check on his wellbeing.
"I didn't think it would finish so early, he's a tough guy when we've sparred before," Gallen said.
"I could feel Hoppa's power but I just kept jabbing him to his body and I knew that was slowing him down.
"When I knew I had him gone I half looked at the ref to stop it band stopped punching, I didn't want to keep punching him.
"The last couple of weeks have got personal but I'm happy to shake hands with him and make up.
"I feel like I'm getting better, but I'm looking forward to getting back to footy."
Post-fight, Gallen - who's been wanting to take a crack at Sonny Bill Williams for while - called out the All Blacks star.
A square-off between the pair has been tossed up before with the Sharks prop desperate to fight the dual international. Before Anthony Mundine's fight against Jeff Horn late last year, Williams said he would handle Gallen "comfortably" before the NRL star hit back.