Paul Gallen won more as a boxer than he did in his long rugby league career because he was willing to leave his ego at the door.
Money walking out the door is never a good feeling. It borders on the obvious, but you still had to feel for Matt Rose on Wednesday night.
Sometime around midnight, Paul Gallen walked out of boxing in a T-shirt that said he had earned $25 million in three years and “never spent a cent.”
This shirt was hand-me-down from his team. Gallen’s fists, as we learn, are not only heavy, but also, as many know, very tight.
However, with his speech, the argument of whether footballers are good for boxing is dead and gone.
Before Gallen left, Michael Zerafa found him and thanked him for entering his card.
Zerafa was introduced to us through two great wars with Jeff Horn, and Wednesday’s fight with Danilo Kreati presents himself as an opportunity to sell himself outside of boxing’s niche audience.
Unfortunately, it was a failure.
It was a fight not much above a glorified exhibition and all the non-boxing types paying to watch Gallen take on Justin Hodges with a couple of other NRL veterans Siua Taukeiaho and Jaiman Lowe will need a solid arm. Twist to convince Zeraph to give it another go, and it still might not be enough.
What Galle understood better than most was that boxing really is a fun business.
And the currency is blood.
His promoter Matt Rose understands this, the first rule of promotion.
As he watched Gallen leave the stadium for the last time, Rose admitted it was a touch melancholy, admitting that Gallen understood it better than anyone.
“Honestly,” he said. “It probably saddens me more that boxing has lost someone who brought the complete package.
“His ability to pick up the fight when we need to fight, whether it’s in the media or in a press conference…”
This was Gallen’s gift to boxing.
Years ago, Tim Tszyu was on Gallen’s undercard, and in a pre-fight press conference, Gallen talked about the displeasure in some circles about football players boxing.
It felt like they were taking all the money.
Certainly Gallen did a lot.
He pocketed the better part of $500,000 for beating Hodges on Wednesday.
He earned the same for his previous fight against Hodges, $800,000 for his fights with Chris Terziewski and Darcy Lussick, $1.5 million against Justis Huni, $400,000 against Lucas Browne and $500,000 for Mark Hunt.
That’s $5 million in his last seven fights. It’s no secret that Gallen won more in his 17 tackles than in his entire football career, which spanned nearly 19 seasons.
The $25 million he sported on his shirt was money he earned from his battles between the gate and pay-per-view sales.
Gallen realized that it was being used as a means to showcase Tszyu’s skills to a wider audience, which didn’t sit well right away.
“When I was brought in to do it, I was a little worried about it at first,” Gallen said.
“I remember when Tim was anchoring one of my fights, I said that if Tim Tszyu fights in the Main Event one day, I’ve done my job in Australian boxing.
“But the most important thing about it is that Tim recognized it and Tim accepted it.
“It was good to know that someone who owns the breed understood it and bought it.”
Gallen brought back something often lost in boxing.
In the days before television, fighters earned their paychecks by taking over the gate.
The Warriors have seen a direct correlation between how much they win, in terms of wicket percentage, compared to the number of innings.
The better the fight, they realized, the more people entered.
Then television polluted it.
Broadcasters needing content would pay up front to televise fights, and it didn’t matter how entertaining or how disgusting the fight was, the check was already cashed.
Fighters began to negotiate their purses beforehand and lost the connection between how much they were paid and how much fun their fights were.
Pay TV changed it again, with fans able to buy the fight and watch it at home, although many fighters are still stuck in the old way of thinking.
Gallen’s arrival on the card brought fresh eyes to the sport, as did Barry Hall and Hodges, Ben Hannant and all of them.
But Gallen took it better than anyone.
Many NRL players are crying foul in the report. If you’re not on their side, you’re the enemy.
It’s immaturity in the code, but Gallen always understood the game within the game. He took the good with the bad, realizing that there was always a greater purpose, so he held little grudge.
Heading into Wednesday’s fight, he and Hodges said things about each other that would make finer souls cry.
It was personal and honest.
Again, he sold the fight and they hugged afterwards, both the richer for it, finishing with a performance they both deserved after giving it so long…with the crowd on its feet.
The day after the fight, Gallen gave his daughter Ruby a day off from school and they went to lunch together.
It was his first real day of retirement.
The family went out for dinner that night before he trains with the Macedonian team ahead of this weekend’s Test against Turkey at Terry Lamb Oval.
Then yesterday morning he trained with Cronulla, grid sprints, he said it sounded terrible.
He promises to break the curse of retired warriors and retire.
“I always had the feeling that once it was over,” he said, and carried it through to the end.
“I’m not too emotional about it,” he said.
Latrell Mitchell took a strong step towards becoming one of the statesmen of the game he belongs to with his comments this week about his local All Stars team.
They came in response to recent local All Stars coach Ron Griffiths calling for the local team to become their own separate entity at the next Rugby League World Cup.
Yes, after a season where the game was ripped from the inside while trying to be “inclusive,” the calls to exclude come.
This came as a hard case for the politically correct crowd.
How do you support minorities, that’s the reason, while also supporting the end of inclusion? “You talk about dividing the country; there are other ways to look at it,” Mitchell told SMH.
“I don’t want to comment too much or blow it out of proportion.”
Mitchell suggested that his Indigenous team could play other nations around the world at other times.
This is a solid idea.
Australia’s performances throughout the World Cup have again underlined the ability of coach Mal Meningan to put a team together.
Meninga has always been excellent with the Queensland team during his reign and has made it to the Kangaroos.
He picks the right team and creates the right mood in the camp.
It becomes a performance.
Originally published as Paul Kent: Paul Gallen always understood that boxing was a business