Paul Gallen reckons it will now become one of the great Australian pub debates: Who would’ve won the $8 million showdown between himself and Sonny Bill Williams?
Speaking at the last ever press conference of his storied career, Gallen conceded his one great regret would be never throwing down against Williams – the rival who effectively coerced him into taking up boxing in 2014.
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The NSW Origin great also revealed the Williams sledge that ensured he and his Channel 9 colleague would not only never fight, but would never be on speaking terms moving forward.
While Gallen earned a convincing decision win over Queensland Origin rival Justin Hodges on Wednesday night – his second straight against the old Brisbane Bronco – his last chat with journalists was all about the fight that got away.
“We’ve never had much beef, I’ve always just said he’s scared to fight me,” Gallen told reporters on Wednesday night in a jubilant dressing room.
“He called me out saying 60-40 contract, we’ve never had beef.
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“And then a couple of months ago he came out and said ‘He’s just not a good person’. That was the end of it for me.
“Who the f— is he to judge me as a person? That was the worst thing.
“Like I said, there was no beef between us, it was just tit-for-tat, I want to fight you, you want to fight me. But for him to try to judge me as a person, that’s the end of it.
“So I came out and said what I thought about him, so there’s no relationship there. I never want there to be, I don’t really care.
“It ended when that comment came, I told everyone what I thought, I went back twice as hard.
“It will be a pub debate forever.”
Earlier this week, Gallen told Fox Sports that he would encourage Williams to fight on, stating that his fights had grossed $25 million in the past three years.
The Cronulla premiership great said even though SBW lost his most recent bout to UFC legend Mark Hunt, an opportunity was still there to be Australia’s next Pay-Per-View.
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“I don’t like him, but I said the other day, ‘Would you keep fighting if you were Sonny Bill?’ Yeah I would. He’s 37 years of age,” Gallen said.
“Look what I’ve done, I retired [from the NRL] at 38, look at the blokes I fought, the money I made.
“He’s still got it, he can still do it. He got beaten by Mark Hunt who is a legend, one of the hardest punchers in the world.
“I’m not saying Sonny should stop, I’m just saying I’ll never fight him.”
Gallen said one of his great regrets would always by not having two, and possibly three fights with Williams – having previously revealed how British boxing promoter Eddie Hearn had offered the pair $4 million each for two fights.
“I’ve never had an issue with Sonny Bill Williams, I’ve always liked him, always respected him,” Gallen said.
“But he always waits for someone to get too old to fight them, and that’s what he’s waiting for with me, and I’m not going to give him that chance, now that I’m past my best.
“He’s done it to all his opponents, and he got caught out recently. That’s life.
“I am disappointed we didn’t do it, we should have fought twice. We should’ve fought four or five years ago when I was calling him out, and whoever lost could’ve said ‘We were footy players back then, we’re professional boxers’ and do it again and made more money.
“And then if it’s one-all, do a huge decider. And if someone has won 2-1 full credit to that person.”