NOW TO LAND MORE OF NRL'S BIG HITTERS- NRL Fight Night

NOW TO LAND MORE OF NRL’S BIG HITTERS

TOWNSVILLE

JAMIE PANDARAM

Familiar faces sought to fight Papalii & Paulo

NELSON Asofa-Solomona and Jason Taumalolo are being lined up as opponents for Josh Papalii and Junior Paulo at the next All Stars Footy boxing event.

After Paulo knocked out Neville Costigan and Papalii edged Ben Hannant via unanimous three-round decision, event promoter Nick Livermore has set his sights on stacking the second event with far more current NRL players.

With the rugby league World Cup on later this year, Livermore will negotiate with international coaches and NRL clubs before deciding whether he holds the next fight night in October, or February 2022.

He has already spoken to Asofa-Solomona and Taumalolo’s teams about fighting on the next card. Asofa-Solomona had initially been lined up to fight Papalii on this show but club demands saw Hannant step in with four weeks’ notice.

“If we go [again] post-NRL season, that makes it a little easier because the guys don’t have to juggle pre-season training and boxing as well, that was a bit of a deterrent for a few of the guys,” Livermore said.

“Let’s see what happens with the league World Cup, and certainly put it on in October, otherwise we’ll go again this time next year.

“Based on what we saw tonight, there will be a few more boys itching to get in the ring after those displays.

“Junior Paulo was always going to show his wares, I think he’ll go on to have a professional career after his NRL club, as promoters we’re really proud to have someone of his stature on our fight night.

“I’d love to see him here again in 12 months’ time.”

The card was to have been headlined by Australian heavyweight Justis Huni, however a concussion ruled him out of the event. While Livermore would enjoy professional fighters on the next card, the relative success of this event in Townsville may allow him to sell the next payper-view off a main event perhaps featuring Papalii versus Asofa-Solomona and Paulo against Taumalolo.

“If it’s 12 months’ time I think Justis will be on the world stage, and with respect to what he’s about to achieve he might be on his own payper-view show,” Livermore said.

Todd Carney and Scott Prince will be part of the next show after their draw on Friday night

Carney has vowed to return to boxing training next week in preparation for a rematch.

The three-round contest was ruled a majority draw after Carney dropped Prince in round one – Prince felt he slipped – before the Queenslander won the next two rounds with sharp jabs.

The pair vowed to settle the score at the next All Stars fight event planned for after the NRL season is finished.

“Me and Princey just said October, we’ll do it again,” Carney said.

“I’ll work harder, he’ll work harder. The main message is we’re not boxers, we’re ex rugby league players who are putting our bodies on the line – I’ll start next week for mine, I love it.”

Carney landed the cleaner shots in round one as Prince tried to establish distance.

At the end of the round, Prince was off balance but Carney managed to land a short right simultaneously, leading the referee to rule a knockdown.

Prince immediately rose and beat the count before the bell rung.

“It was the end of the round so I couldn’t attack him after, credit to Princey he got me a few good times around the eye and nose,” Carney said. “I loved it, it was outstanding. “He won the second round, I won the first, so that third, it was dog eat dog.” Prince was disappointed with the knockdown call. “I countered Toddy quite well, it was unfortunate with the ruling and the scoring, it felt like I slipped in that round one, but he had the call adjudicated so there’s complaints, that’s boxing I suppose,” Prince said. “I thought fitness played a role for me, in terms of advantage. “I got the first round out of the way and felt more comfortable in round two and three, I felt like I could’ve went another two rounds actually.”

Carney is eager to continue his boxing career.

“I was showing I could box a little bit, better than my last fight, I showed some grit and toughness, it was a good draw, we both battered each other,” Carney said.

“All the hard I did, I tell you what if I didn’t do 91 sessions in four weeks I would’ve been out in the first round.

“That’s another tick off the bucket list; the crowd, my mum and fiancé here, my little baby who is not born yet, it’s a hell of a rush.”

Gallen could be next on Junior hit list after Costigan clouted

PETER BADEL

JUNIOR Paulo has called out Paul Gallen for a rematch after the NSW Origin hulk demonstrated his hitting power with a brutal knockout of Neville Costigan in the NRL All Stars fight night.

In a fun and frenetic night of footy pugilism, Paulo’s former Raiders teammate Josh Papalii made an impressive debut in the main event, winning a unanimous points decision over a gutsy Ben Hannant at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre.

But the most savage display of the evening belonged to Paulo, who weathered an early storm from Costigan before stopping him with a vicious right-hand 33 seconds into the second round.

It was Paulo’s first return to the ring in four years after showcasing natural skill in his 2016 loss to Gallen, who recently beat UFC legend Mark Hunt to amass an unbeaten record from 11 fights.

Now the power-packed Paulo says he is ready to atone for his narrow defeat against Gallen if the Sharks legend wants to punch on again.

“It was a long time ago (his fight against Gallen),” Paulo said. “Gal has done enormous things in the sport of boxing but I will leave it open (a rematch) if he is still boxing.”

Of his Costigan stoppage, Paulo said: “There was no footage of Neville. I had to trust my instincts. I was able to come out in round two and put him away.”

While Paulo was formidable, Papalii showed glimpses of promise, overcoming early nerves to dispose of Hannant in the fight of the night. The 117kg Papalii was expected to hammer the untested Hannant but the ‘Polar Bear’ showed genuine toughness to go the distance in a bout that could have easily gone his way.

Hannant was adamant he beat Papalii and challenged the Queensland Origin hulk to a rematch.

In the opening bout of the night, Scott Prince and Todd Carney battled out a majority draw, before Craig Gower pulled off a boilover with a shock victory over Cowboys icon Matt Bowen.

Willie Mason held off a gutsy Sam Thaiday to win a split decision, while Sandor Earl was outstanding, winning all three rounds to consign Justin Hodges to his second consecutive defeat.

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