Paul Gallen has received advice from John Hopoate, one of the more successful rugby league players to tun to boxing.
Paul Gallen says former rugby league star turned boxer John Hopoate has advised him to ignore the knockers as he prepares for his first professional fight this week.
The NSW and Cronulla Sharks NRL captain fights Queensland-based New Zealander Herman Ene Purcell (1-1, 1 KO) at Sydney’s Hordern Pavilion on Wednesday on the undercard to the Daniel Geale-Garth Wood middleweight bout.
Gallen is in the midst of a hectic schedule, having just spent a week in New Zealand for the NRL Nines tournament in Auckland.
He denied reports he had a neck injury, but admitted he was nervous heading into his bout with Purcell.
Before leaving Australia for the Nines, he sparred with Hopoate, the former NSW and Australian winger who was one of the more successful footballer-turned-boxers, winning the Australian heavyweight title.
“He tried to teach me a few things along the way, especially with fighting in close,” Gallen told AAP on Monday.
“But I suppose the biggest thing he told me was a lot of mental stuff.
“Don’t worry about what people say. You’re going to have a lot of people knock you.
“That was his big message to me and you’ve just got to not worry about them.
“He really helped me out. I thank him a lot.
“He finished work one day at about three or four in the morning and he ended up driving out to spar me, so I can’t thank him enough.”
Gallen managed to get some sparring in during his week in New Zealand and had no doubts he was fit enough to go the distance on Wednesday if required.
“I’m really comfortable getting the four rounds out, that’s not going to be a drama at all for me,” Gallen said.
Gallen, who won his two amateur bouts for charity against All Blacks Hika Eliott and Liam Messam, downplayed his boxing abilities when asked about his style of fighting.
“I don’t know, I don’t think I’m good enough to have any sort of style,” Gallen joked.
“But I like to go forward. I don’t think I’m going to be someone fighting pretty, jabbing off the back foot.”