No, the Paul Gallen vs Barry Hall bout wasn’t bad for boxing.
Let’s get that out up front.
Bad refereeing and terrible judges are bad for boxing. Fixed fights and dangerous mismatches are bad for boxing. Greedy promoters and thieving managers are bad for boxing.
Two athletes lacing on a pair of gloves and going at it isn’t bad for boxing.
What we saw on Friday night was an entertaining contest between two evenly-matched fighters.
They weren’t as skillful or as polished as full time professional boxers, but it was a fun fight to watch and I didn’t know who was going to win.
That’s pretty much all I’m after here. It’s also a lot more than you get from a lot of pro boxing matches these days.
Main Event commentator and boxing insider Ben Damon, who had the best seat in house for the heavyweight clash, agrees that it was a close contest.
“I’m a boxing person, so I understand both sides of the Cross Code – or main stream – boxing events,” Damon told the Spinning a Yarn Podcast.
“I think stylistically it worked pretty well.
“You had a hugely aggressive, fit, tough dude in Paul Gallen going forward, and you had Barry Hall – the unknown commodity – who we found out had a lot of skill.
“Had he got in early, who knows what he might have done.”
A week before ‘Code War,’ 45-year-old John Hopoate signed on to fight former heavyweight champion of the world Lucas Browne on four days’ notice.
Predictably, it ended in a second round knockout in favour of Browne.
How the fight was sanctioned in the first place remains a mystery, and surely it was a worse look for boxing than Gallen vs Hall.
Rather than arguing about the merits – or otherwise – of footy players stepping into the ring, we should be talking about the opportunity it gives others on the card.
In this case, the Moloney brothers Andrew and Jason were able to score classy wins in front of the largest TV audience they’ve probably ever had.
Jason scored a destructive first round knockout win and Andrew overcame some serious adversity in the fifth round of his main event fight to beat Elton Dharry and raise the interim WBA super flyweight title.
“I did a lot of media in the lead up to that fight and everyone was asking ‘is this bad for boxing?'” Damon said.
“I was like ‘hang on, you wouldn’t be ringing me to do this interview if they (Gallen and Hall) weren’t there.’
“And I wouldn’t be able to slip Andrew and Jason’s names into every interview if Gallen and Hall weren’t on it.
“It was a huge opportunity.
“Jason Moloney made the most of it with a huge body shot stoppage – and he probably fights for a world title next year.
“Andrew put in an incredible performance afterwards and there were still a lot of people watching when that took place.
“It was a huge opportunity for them and they got it.”
The key now is making sure some of those casual fans who tuned in for the footy fight stick around to watch the like of the Moloney brothers, Tim Tszyu, Jai Opetaia, Brock Jarvis and Michael Zerafa who are all at the forefront of of this golden age of Australian boxing.