By Adrian Warren
NSW rugby league captain Paul Gallen is more worried about losing than getting hurt in his first professional boxing bout, fearing a defeat could dent his football reputation.
Gallen makes his professional debut on February 19 in Sydney against 19-year-old Queensland heavyweight Herman Ene Purcell (1-1, 1 KO) on the undercard of the Daniel Geale-Garth Wood middleweight fight.
The footballer's preparations have included sparring with 2006 Commonwealth Games heavyweight champion and unbeaten professional Brad Pitt, which he says is one of the scariest things he's ever done.
Although the fight falls just three weeks before Cronulla's NRL season opener, Sharks skipper Gallen isn't comtemplating the possibility of getting injured in the ring.
"That hasn't crossed my mind to be honest, so fingers crossed that doesn't happen, but that's not a concern for me," he said.
Gallen has already scored wins over All Blacks Hika Elliot and Liam Messam in charity bouts, but revealed losing is his biggest fear heading into his first paid fight.
"I'm nervous and I'm fearful and I don't want to lose," Gallen said.
"I've built a good reputation in rugby league and the way I train and play.
"To lose would probably put a bit of a dent in that, so I'm there to win."
While the Sharks have allowed him to fight, it has meant a hectic double life for the 32-year-old forward.
"One of the requirements from the club was I didn't miss out on anything, so I've been training as a professional footballer all day.
"Then at six o'clock at night I've been doing my boxing stuff, so it's been pretty challenging and pretty tough.
"The football stuff is pretty easy. I've got a lot of guys around me.
"I had a hard sparring session the other day with a bloke called Brad Pitt and that was one of the scariest things I've done.
"I was no competition for him, it was a lesson I know that.
"But I've learnt to keep my hands up a bit better since then."
Gallen says he's learnt that in professional bouts he's got to pick when he throws a punch.
"Not throw so many punches and gas myself out, so that's what I've been working on the past few weeks."Tags: Paul Gallen