The much anticipated Code War has lived up to expectations with a brutal battle between the two footballing stars.
But a majority draw has left a bitter taste in the mouths of punters after the Paul Gallen and Barry Hall slogged it out for six absorbing rounds at Margaret Court Arena.
The fight went the distance with Hall continuing to land counter punches, despite the more experienced Gallen setting the pace and dominating ring aggression.
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The heavily pro-Hall crowd was brought to its feet when Hall landed a power left-hook as well as several uppercuts that caught Gallen to the side of the head.
The Sharks star was heavily booed as he walked out to the ring which ended up being the loudest crowd cry of the night — until the referee announced the result as a majority draw.
The crowd booed the result with Gallen coming out on top on one of the cards 58-56, while the others were 57-all draw.
Gallen believed he was robbed of the win, slamming the judges after the fight.
“You know maybe if we were in Sydney it would be a different story,” Gallen said post-fight. “I constantly had the pressure on, I hit him way more times than he hit me, so I think I won that fight.
“One judge had it right, no doubt about it, and the others got it wrong.
“(A rematch) makes some sense, I think everyone will like it … let’s just get some judges that can score.”
While fans were keen to see the rematch in Sydney and Gallen was eager to talk up another dance with the former AFL hardman, Hall wasn’t sure.
“It’s hard to tell. I don’t know if I won or not,” he said. “One judge gave it to him so he technically he probably won.
“I’m pretty happy with that, in my first time out.
“But it’s been a big burden on my family. I miss my boys. I’m not sure. It’s been a bix tax on my life, I’m not sure if Paul wants to do it again, maybe we can talk down the track.”
The rematch was already getting big play.
But the fight has anger from the fans with both sides after the warriors slogged it out.
Though it looks like they’ll be getting a beer after all — they’ll need one to convince Hall of the rematch.
WHAT THE FIGHTERS SAID OUT OF THE RING
Paul Gallen and Barry Hall have both declared they are open to a re-match despite the controversial finish.
Gallen was seething in the ring after the fight, but said he would be happy to run the fight back with the same judging panel and promoters, despite last week warning the boxing world he could smell an “ambush” in Hall’s favour.
Gallen back flipped on earlier suggestions that he would not be interested in catching up for a beer with Hall, declaring there is genuine respect between him and Hall.
The exhausted pair were spotted embracing as the bell went at the end of the sixth round, with Gallen whispering something into Hall’s ear.
Gallen refused to reveal what he told Hall.
The Sharks legend was still filthy about the way the fight was scored by the judges out of the ring.
“It probably feels more like a draw with the way it was scored,” Gallen said.
“He hit me with some good clean shots, probably one a round, but to me, boxing is about the aggressor, who lands more shots. I hit him more times than he hit me. He was just trying to survive.”
Gallen was most angry about the way the fight was refereed, again suggestion Hall was given an unfair advantage by the referee constantly stopping the fight – without taking a point of Hall – to warn Hall for grabbing Gallen in the clinch, a deliberate tactic to slow the fight down.
“He was warned every round to stop grabbing me,” Gallen said.
“I said that to the referee at the start of the fight, ‘He’s going to grab me all the time’. And he said, ‘That’s a foul and if he grabs, I’ll warn him’. He warned him every round. Took 20 seconds to win every round. So it ended up being three minute rounds. So they gave him a lot of breathing time.
“All he did was survive. How you get points for surviving, I don’t know. He admitted it out there. For him to say out there one judge scored it like that, he would know. As an athlete we know. He won a couple rounds no doubt, but I hit him with more shots.”
He said he is most “ready for a drink” and added Hall can “buy me a bourbon”.
Hall said he is happy to have the re-match in Sydney and fight it over three minute rounds.
He said he regrets not taking the fight to Gallen in the later rounds when he says he got on top.
“I’m just kicking myself at the end that I could have went,” Hall said.
“I had an opportunity to press him at the end and I didn’t. (Trainer) Angelo (Hyder) at the end was saying, ‘You’ve got him’.
“I thought I hit him with cleaner shots. He might have hit me with more shots, but I thought I hit him with the cleaner, more technical shots.”
Meanwhile, Hall also changed his tune after first conceding in the ring that Gallen probably deserved to win the fight.
Hall said in his post fight press conference the judges awarded the right result.
“I’m not sure about the result. I think it was fair. He probably thinks he won.”
He said something tellingly different in the ring.
“It’s hard to tell. I don’t know if I won or not,” he said. “One judge gave it to him, so he technically he probably won.
“I’m pretty happy with that, in my first time out.
THE ACTION IN THE MARGARET COURT ARENA CROWD
While there was a disappointing, scattered crowd for the first fights of the night, the fans began to flow in after 8pm (AEDT).
Stars, including colourful Melbourne identity Mick Gatto, former AFL Footy Show star Sam Newman, Cricket legend Shane Warne, AFL great Jimmy Bartel and former Aussie test captain Michael Clarke were all in the house early.
Comedy duo Hamish and Andy, Dave Hughes, Jonathan Brown, Mark Berretta (Channel 7), Erin Molan (Channel 9), Mark Hunt (UFC), Majak Daw (AFL), Brad Hill (AFL) and Dale Thomas (AFL) were all expected to appear at some stage.
After the fight in a video on Twitter with Newman, Warne and his son Jackson said they both thought Hall had won but Newman said he saw the draw coming choosing “diplomacy”.
Though he also got a shot about the potential rematch.
“You wouldn’t think boxing would be rigged would you, oh no, who ever said boxing would be rigged,” Newman said.
The 9000-seat venue had been scaled back with black curtains cutting off more than 4000 seats.
Fight officials expected the event to go close to a sellout of more than 4000 spectators.
JASON MOLONEY EXECUTES BRUTAL KO
Earlier, Andrew Moloney’s brother Jason stormed to a knockout win against Nicaragua’s Dixon Flores in their fight for the WBA Oceania bantamweight title.
Moloney dropped Flores in the first round with Flores only recovering after a standing eight count.
The No. 3 ranked WBA bantamweight star then finished it in the second round with a hellacious left jab to the body that had Flores rolling on the deck.
The fight was immediately stopped after Moloney had earlier stunned Flores with a combination of jabs to the head that left the Nicaraguan wonky on his feet.
The fight was stopped at the 1:26 mark of the second round.
“I really wanted to make a big statement and show that I’m ready to fight for a world title as well,” he said.
“Tonight, Andrew has his chance and hopefully early next year we’ll have both of us as Australia’s only two world champs and put Australian boxing back on the map.”
“When we get given a chance to fight on a show like this, you have to impress … I hope everyone sticks by us and supports Team Moloney for the rest of our careers.”