The Mark Hunt of 2020 isn’t the same fighter who produced a string of highlight reel knockouts in the UFC, says Paul Gallen two weeks out from their heavyweight clash in Sydney.
The two heavyweights have traded barbs in the media over the past two weeks, with Hunt most recently leaking details of a text message exchange in which he asked if Gallen was using steriods on his injured shoulder.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that a disappointed Gallen hit back this week, explaining that what happened at Cronulla wasn’t steroids and was the fault of the club, not the players.
The 39-year-old said he’d gladly be drug tested in the lead up to the bout, and returned serve on Hunt, saying the Super Samoan isn’t the fighter he once was.
“People are remembering Mark Hunt and these knockouts that he’s famous for a long, long time ago,” Gallen said on The Big Sports Breakfast on Wednesday.
“At 46 years of age, it’s not the same Mark Hunt people are remembering.
“I’m going to prove that. He’s not going to be able to get to me like he thinks he’s going to get to me and like everyone else thinks he’s going to get to me.
“I’ll show him on December 16.”
Gallen stopped short of calling Hunt washed-up, but said he knows from experience that time catches up to every athlete sooner or later.
“He’s not a has-been, but he’s a puncher’s chance,” he said.
“I respect that power and experience, and what he can do. Experience means everything, but there comes a time when experience tips over to too experienced, or you’re done.
“I found that in rugby league. In the last year of my rugby league career, there were guys who – when I was in my prime, or even the year before – couldn’t get near me, but that last year, they became hard to handle.
“It’s just age. Age defeats everyone and that’s just the way of life.
“Everyone remembers Mark Hunt for what he did and I was a huge Mark Hunt fan. But he’s not going to beat me on December 16.”
Gallen has maintained the same intense training approach to boxing that he applied to the NRL in a near 20 year career, and says his movement and fitness will be too much for Hunt.
“I’ve got strengths he hasn’t got. I’ve got advantages that he hasn’t got and I’ve got movement he hasn’t got,” he said.
“He’s got strengths I haven’t got. He’s got that punching power and that experience. He’s going to know how to cut the ring off, use that power and know how to time his punches.
“It’s up to me to combat that. It’s about moving, not just standing there.”