Barry Hall, an Australian rules football legend, and Paul Gallen, a rugby league legend, put on an entertaining fight over six, two-minute rounds today in Melbourne, and when the dust settled, nothing was settled.
Judges came back with a majority draw, with two cards of 57-57 and one card of 58-56 in Gallen’s favor. Bad Left Hook edged the fight to Hall, 58-56, but there was plenty of argument for a 4-2 Gallen card, or a 3-3 card. The result is not really controversial other than a draw is inherently controversial.
Gallen (9-0-1, 5 KO) came in with the pro boxing experience, at least on a lower level, and more importantly with the cardio of the fight game. Hall (0-0-1) was making his pro debut at age 42, having boxed some in his youth, and while he showed some legitimate skills for someone his age with a long and hard athletic career behind him, it was clear that he was the one running on fumes a lot sooner than Gallen.
That said, the taller, rangier Hall used a jab fairly effectively, and also snuck in a lot of cute little right hand uppercuts when Gallen, 38, tried to close the range in his haphazard sort of way. Gallen may have landed more shots, but Hall may have landed the more eye-catching blows, and considering Hall was puffing pretty hard at the end of the first round, his effort for the next five was pretty amazing.
All in all, it was a fun fight with a hot crowd and other than the announcement of the draw, the fans in attendance at Margaret Court Arena seemed pretty entertained throughout.
“It’s hard to tell when you’re fighting if you won or not,” Hall said. “I absolutely love the sport of boxing so I didn’t want to discredit boxing. That’s why I took up such a big challenge against Paul. He’s 9-0, very reputable. I hope you can appreciate the challenge I took up.”
On making his pro debut, Hall said, “It was an itch I wanted to scratch for a long time, and for different circumstances it never worked out. I hope I can inspire a few old people in the crowd to get off your ass and do something.”
Hall was asked if he’d be up for a rematch, and he’s not closing the door, but he isn’t sure it’s something he wants to do yet, either.
“It’s been a big burden on my family. I miss my boys. I’m not sure,” he said. “It was one of the most taxing things of my life. I’m 42 years old. If Paul wants to do it again, we’ll talk, but it’s not about me, it’s about my family.”
The two talked plenty in the lead-up to the fight, but Hall was ready to put that to bed. “I’m happy to have a beer with him,” he said. “I’ll even buy you one, big fella. It’s sport. Paul’s not a bad fella. I hope boxing can see that we’re doing the sport some good and not harm.”
Gallen was disappointed with the result, and was definitely up for a rematch.
“He got me with some good shots, no doubt about that. I kept coming forward. I hit him way more times than he hit me, so I think I won that fight,” Gallen said. “But it is what it is, it’s a draw, and I’m happy to do it again. I’m ready to do it again if he wants to do it again.”
He also said he wasn’t surprised that Hall was as capable as he proved to be in the ring.
“He was good, I knew he’d be good,” he said. “He was an amateur champion. There was no doubt he was gonna be good, I knew that. I knew he’d be ready. But I’m disappointed in that result. One judge had it right, no doubt about it, and the other two had it wrong.”