Australia’s greatest boxing trainer of all time, Johnny Lewis, says Paul Gallen looks like an ‘old man’ and needs to retire immediately – or risk permanent damage.
Gallen’s latest attempt at beating two fighters in one night was ultimately successful, but also far more competitive than perhaps it should have been.
In a bar brawl of sorts, the 41-year-old blues legend had to climb off the silver screen to earn a victory over a relatively inexperienced Justin Hodges at the Nissan Arena in the Origin Rumble.
Boxing fans were shocked – as was Johnny Lewis, who oversaw the careers of world champions Jeff Fenech, Kostya Tszyu and Jeff Harding.
“I was shocked,” Lewis said. “I didn’t think there was that much on the punch,” Lewis told the Daily Telegraph.
“This year he (Gallen) has deteriorated as a fighter,” said Lewis. “It’s not enough to be tough.
‘He’s slowed down and looks like an old man. I don’t mind telling him, but I don’t know if he’ll listen.
“Don’t even have one last fight. It could undo all the good things he’s done in boxing.
“He should leave it at that.
“He’s no different than anyone else when the time’s up.”
Lewis has seen the sad side of the fighting game where fighters stay in the game too long and walk away with permanent neurological injuries.
“It can only take one more hit – and I don’t want it to become a statistic.”
It looks like Gallen is planning at least one more fight before finally hanging up the gloves. He recently admitted he’s worried about all the damage he’s racked up over the years of boxing and playing rugby
“It’s weird, I never thought about brain damage until the last six months. I never worried about that. I never considered it. But suddenly it hit me, »said Gallen.
“I look out for my children and want to be there for a long time to be a good father to them.
“We don’t know if you have CTE until you’re dead, but I know a lot of people in boxing in their 40s and 50s – they’re a bit slower mentally and physically and I can’t be that person with the media roles I have (comment for channel 9).’
Lewis believes Gallen now has to make the decision because he is no longer the fighter or athlete he once was.
“One thing he has — and no one will ever take away from him — is guts,” Lewis said.
“He’s as brave as any fighter who’s stepped into the ring. But if Hodges had gotten off the ropes and held the center a little, he could have stopped him.’