Ex-NRL hardman Paul Gallen takes on ex-AFL champ Barry Hall in a heavyweight boxing bout this Friday night in Melbourne. While you can’t expect a top-quality boxing bout, both men still know what they are doing in the ring and should provide its share of entertainment.
So, let’s take a look at the boxing background of both athletes and where they have the possible advantage in the ring, in a match that is being called the ‘Code War’. It’s a battle between the AFL and the NRL, with the two legends going at it for a reduced six, two-minute rounds.
There’s a reason Gal is 9-0 and that is that he is a hard-hitting boxer with a relatively good striking defence for someone with his limited experience in the ring. His fight against John Hopoate proved he really can box, taking him out clinically in the second round. It must be said, however, that Hopoate wasn’t in the greatest shape for that fight, and is 45 years of age, yet he is probably the stiffest opposition Gallen has fought in his nine bouts.
Gallen will look to use his experience in the ring to beat Hall. He will likely be off to a fast start and use all his recent boxing experience to attempt to outwork his rival. What does go against him is the two-minute rounds instead of three. He has been very vocal about changing them to three-minute rounds, but it was to no avail. Gallen needs to be very careful not to get carried away with his emotions here, as in every sense Hall is being billed as the A-side and he is well aware of this. Terms have been made to arguably suit Hall, his name is the first on the posters and in all promotion of the fight, and Gallen himself has said that the conditions are being made for Hall to win.
If Gallen can use his boxing experience and close the distance on Hall while staying behind a solid boxing defence, he can test the potentially questionable gas tank of Hall and get the win.
Other than the punch that dropped West Eagles player Brent Staker back in 2008, and a few well edited promotional training clips, it is hard to really tell the type of prowess Hall has in the ring, now at 42 years of age.
Hall has one large advantage here and that is in his technique. He has amateur boxing experience and although it has been a long time since then, it is a lot easier to relearn how to box than learn from scratch. Hall moved to Melbourne when he was 12, and racked up a state title while he was there, so he obviously has natural ability in the boxing realm. He comes into this bout with the reach advantage and if he can fight behind his jab, this is a very winnable fight for him.
Gallen has experience, Hall has technique. Which advantage outweighs the other really is the question. As the underdog, I’m enticed to take the risk that Hall can keep distance and pick Gallen apart from the outside and with the two-minute rounds, can outlast Gallen’s power shots to get a decision victory.