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Australia owes Paul Gallen an apology

Paul Gallen, we were so horribly wrong. It is a great tragedy that large sections of Aussie sports fans remained cold on the former NRL star until he is at the finish line.Watch Charlo vs Castano 2 LIVE on Main Event available on Kayo & Foxtel, Sun 15th May from 11am AEST. ORDER NOW >Even the most XXXX-drinking, daylight savings-rejecting Queensland State of Origin fan would have walked away from Wednesday night’s boxing blockbuster with absolute admiration and respect for the man they have misunderstood and scorned for a professional career that dates back to his NRL debut in 2001.Twenty years later it seems impossible for the career to be extended any further after his rollercoaster loss to Kris Terzievski.Father time hit the former footy star like a tonne of bricks on Wednesday night at the Newcastle Entertainment Centre when he was battered by the Australian heavyweight champion.Gallen thrilled the crowd with a brave fightback in the final two rounds, but the judges had no second thoughts in handing the fight to Terzievski via unanimous decision (97-92 x 3).On heart, courage and grit alone he has cemented himself as an icon of Australian sport. It is now clear that view is unanimous.There was a moment in the ninth round of the fight with Terzievski where Gallen for the first time hurt his opponent and briefly had the Victorian on wobbly, tired legs.The crowd went berserk and chants of “Gallen” emerged in the grandstands.Gallen has been a divisive figure even in Newcastle — a town that bleeds red and blue for the Knights — because of his career with the Sharks. But that was forgotten in the ninth round when the crowd got behind Gallen with everything they had.When asked about the chant after the fight, Gallen said self-deprecatingly and with a smile: “There were a few of them. I don’t know that they were doing”.There are plenty in that crowd that probably now wish they could go back and embrace Gallen decades ago.Main Event boxing commentator Paul Kent said after the fight the crowd’s chant was a significant moment. “I think we saw something tonight and that’s the crowd finally turned for Paul Gallen,” he said. “They finally appreciated his performances. He was so brave out there. I said before the fight the hand speed might be a worry and tonight we saw that. “In the early rounds he was just dominated by Kris Terzievski’s hand speed. But just through, pressure, courage, pride, will he fought his way back into the fight. And in the ninth round there the crowd were up on their feet and they were behind Gallen. “He’s generally been booed all around, even in NSW, it’s taken his whole sporting career, but he’s won them over.”

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