Concerned promoter Dean Lonergan is pleading with Paul Gallen not to re-enter the ring for a return bout with Justis Huni, fearing the Australian heavyweight champion could seriously hurt the ageing sports star.
Huni broke one of Gallen’s ribs during his 10-round battering of the 39-year-old on Wednesday night and Lonergan worries about an even more brutal pounding if the pair have a rematch.
Gallen has a contract clause allowing him to fight Huni again after the 22-year-old returns from the Tokyo Olympics, where he is rated a legitimate gold-medal chance.
“We will honour that contract,” Lonergan told AAP on Friday.
“But I’ve already spoken to him and said: ‘Mate, you’ve got nothing to prove and I don’t think you should do the fight’.
“I just think for his own health he shouldn’t do it.
“There are other options where he can make just as much money without risking his health.
“I think he’s of the mind that he’s going ‘that might be the smart option because I’m 39, he’s going on 23. I don’t know if I can get any better but he certainly will’.
“That’s the other thing. Justis is only going to get better and he will damage Paul again. He’s a family man. It’s too big a risk.”
Gallen said after his first defeat this week from 13 professional bouts he was unsure about his future.
If he opts to fight on, Lonergan is urging the retired rugby league great to pursue the safer option of taking on a fellow footballer-turned-boxer like Sonny Bill Williams or seek a return grudge match with Barry Hall after their draw.
“There are a number of other fighters he can fight,” he said.
“Any fighter in this country, after what he just did for Justis Huni, will put their hand up to fight Paul Gallen because he brings so much to the table.
“I have a conversation with all my fighters before they sign – I only want two things for them with me: that they come out healthy and wealthy. And there ain’t no point being wealthy, if you’re not healthy.
“There’s much safer options for Paul Gallen.”
Hoping Gallen makes the wise choice, Lonergan hopes to bring New Zealand heavyweight Junior Fa to fight Huni later this year in Townsville.
On the same night, North Queensland Cowboys superstar Jason Taumalolo could make his boxing debut on an undercard also featuring fellow NRL players Brandon Smith, Addin Fonua-Blake and Junior Paulo.