THE bad blood between Paul Gallen and Lucas Browne has reached new levels.
As the public watched on, the pair announced their heavyweight grudge match, slated for April 21 at the WIN Entertainment Centre on Main Event pay-per-view.
We discuss the biggest takeaways from a tension-filled press conference.
Gallen silences Browne
After sixteen months of speculation and trash talk, Tuesday morning’s official announcement was always going to be fun.
Former heavyweight titleholder Browne (29-2, 25 KOs) has long been a vocal critic of rugby league convert Gallen (10-0-1, 5 KOs), criticising his foray into boxing, as well as his recent choice of opponents, including the likes of Barry Hall and John Hopoate.
But on the biggest stage, and with the sporting public firmly affixed on their press conference, it was Gallen that took the lead, taking aim at Browne’s career-best effort in Grozny, where he picked up the regular version of the WBA heavyweight crown.
“He won a version of the world title… he wasn’t the WBA champion at all,” he explained.
“He won a version of a world title. I would liken it to a reserve grade competition in rugby league.
“If you win a reserve grade competition, you don’t run around telling everyone you won the NRL Premiership, which is what he does.”
The 41-year-old Perth resident brushed off the criticism from Gallen, adopting a lower key presence than perhaps expected.
Browne anoints himself as Australia’s heavyweight GOAT
There are few figures in Australian boxing more polarising than Browne.
The well-travelled heavyweight has accomplished a slew of feats to separate himself from the pack, with his maiden Commonwealth title win in 2014 making him the first Australian to lift the prestigious belt in 122 years.
Alongside his short reign as a WBA regular titleholder, Browne believes he stands alone as Australia’s best ever heavyweight, which he declared to the enthusiast media pack.
“I definitely think I’m the GOAT… the greatest of all time of Australian heavyweights,” he said.
“I realise there are better heavyweights in the world, and there has been. In terms of Australian heavyweights, I’m the GOAT.
“Full respect to him (Gallen), but I still want to punch him in the face.”
Promises of violence by Wilson and Chua
Unbeaten sensation Liam Wilson has proven incredibly difficult to match.
Since stretching the hard-nosed Jesus Cuadro last February, the telegenic super featherweight has had few willing challengers, until fan favourite Francis Chua entered the conversation.
A removalist by trade, the 36-year-old Perth resident has offered to do the heavy lifting, agreeing to defend his recently acquired interim WBA Oceania bauble against Wilson (8-0, 6 KOs) in Wollongong.
Best known for upsetting a world title bound Kye MacKenzie in 2018, Chua (8-1-1, 3 KOs) has plans of replicating those feats on the big stage, with the promise of lucrative future fights on the horizon.
The winner will become mandatory for the outright holder of the WBA Oceania super featherweight belt, Billel Dib, who returns against Jack Asis next month.
Big fight feeling
Everything about the press conference felt like a major event.
From the media assembled, to the arena presentation, and the national coverage of the bout, Australian boxing was presented as a mainstream sporting product.
As the heavyweight rivals continue their high-profile build-up to what promises to be another major event by No Limit Boxing, a fuse has been lit, with the consumer being the biggest winner from this event.
After a run of high-profile cards in Townsville and Parramatta, as well as events in Newcastle and Wollongong still to come, it’s a great time to following the sport at all levels.
Photo: Narelle Spangher