Paul Gallen has survived a first-round scare to seal a TKO victory against a dazed and confused Darcy Lussick at Sydney’s Star Casino.
The third-round win means the only blemish in Gallen’s boxing career is his defeat to Justis Huni.
Gallen gave away six inches in height but his experience in the ring proved invaluable as he withstood Lussick’s early barrage to claim the win.
Lussick, whose sole fight prior to this bout was a 39-second knockout of ex-Brisbane Broncos and Queensland rugby league star Justin Hodges, took this match-up with four weeks’ notice.
But he started with incredible brutality and had Gallen beaten for much of the first round.
Rather than look to use his superior reach, Lussick was willing to take the lead and pushed Gallen against the ropes as the pair traded early body shots.
When they moved to the centre of the ring Lussick proved to be the more effective as he unleashed a variety of uppercuts and hooks, forcing Gallen to weave his way out of trouble.
The former Cronulla captain struggled and by the time the bell went to signal the end of the first round, he was gasping for air.
But Gallen’s durability proved crucial in the second round and after Lussick started brightly he relinquished control of the contest.
The former Manly prop was quite literally clinging to Gallen as he tired towards the end of the second and dropped to the canvas.
Lussick survived the count and went into the third in all sorts of trouble.
It took referee Les Fear just 20 seconds in the third to call time as a disorientated Lussick looked on.
“To his credit he was too strong to push away,” Gallen said.
“I wasn’t concerned (by the first round) with all due respect. I took a punch and then I was just carrying him.
“I can’t thank him enough for stepping in.”
Gallen said he wasn’t holding his breath for a chance of a highly anticipated fight against Sonny Bill Williams.
“There’s one fight everyone wants to see me have,” he said. “It’s been talked about for 10 years.”
The 40-year-old won $20,000 for the best knockout of the night and donated his prize to Harry Garside and Sam Goodman, who both won earlier on the night.