RUGBY league stars were out in force to watch Queensland Maroons great Justin Hodges win his first professional boxing bout in just 75 seconds in Sydney.
Greg Inglis, Scott Prince, Cody Walker and Latrell Mitchell were at Hordern Pavilion last night to see the 36-year-old beat Rob Baron by TKO in the first round.
The fight was one of the undercard fights to Paul Gallen and John Hopoate’s clash at the Star of the Ring charity fight night.
Hodges, who weighed in at 104.6kg, knocked the Ipswich furniture removalist, who weighed in at 91.6kg, down very quickly.
But Baron got back up, and Hodges, who had mate Anthony Mundine ringside, knocked him down two more times before referee Les Fear called it.
The Courier-Mail’s boxing guru Grantlee Kieza noted Hodges had practised his fast jab and slick boxing skills for weeks leading up to the fight but after copping a hard left hook on the chin in the opening seconds he turned brawler, overpowering Baron with brute strength, bulldozing him into the ropes and bouncing him off the canvas like a yo-yo.
“He got me once on the chin and I thought `holy hell we’re in for a fight’… my plan went out the window,” Hodges, who played 16 seasons of first grade rugby league and made 24 Origin appearances, told The Courier-Mail.
“I knew if you knock them down three times the fight’s over so that’s what I tried to do.”
Now the former Brisbane Broncos star, who is Queensland Maroons assistant coach, will focus on football for a while.