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Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant announce their returns to the boxing ring

Former rugby league stars Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant are getting back into the ring, after they were confirmed on the undercard for a No Limit on Fox fight night event in Brisbane on June 29th.

The two former Broncos and Maroons teammates are no strangers to the fight game, having fought a number of times since they retired from rugby league.

But now the duo will face-off against each other in a heavyweight clash, with both hoping a victory will lead to a potential match-up against Paul Gallen.

The last time either man fought was during the NRL All Stars boxing event that was hosted in Townsville last year. Hannant’s clash with Josh Papali headlined that night, while Hodges faced Sandor Earl.

“You’re going to see two of your favorite NRL players – or least favorite – trying to put each other to sleep,” Hannant said at the press conference.

“I’m not taking this as just a pay day, this is a challenge to me. I’m in the gym at 3.30 in the morning, I don’t know what Hodgie is doing at that time?

“I’ll bring him a pillow and say ‘night, night’ because he’s going asleep,” Hannant added.

“You almost did just put me to sleep, you’re right,” Hodges replied.

“I’ve been working just as hard as him, I don’t need to get up at 3.30am and do that work, because he’s the silly one who sits on the radio, talks s**t and eats fatty foods. So, that’s his problem, not mine.

“I hit hard. And when I hit him, he’s going to go to sleep… The big carrot at the end of this is to fight Gallen.”

The card is co-headlined by world No.6 Liam Wilson’s clash with Matias Rueda, alongside Paulo Aokuso’s fight with former world title challenger Robert Berridge.

Who is Liam Wilson

The 25-year-old Queenslander is the No.6-ranked super featherweight in the world, boasting a 10-1-0 record.

Earlier in the year, Wilson claimed the WBO Asia Pacific super featherweight title after defeating Filipino Joe Nonay via knockout.

It was sweet revenge for the Aussie star, after Nonay had affected the only loss on Wilson’s record to date with a TKO victory in 2021.

“We have seen one of the best knockouts in recent Australian boxing history from Liam Wilson,” Ben Damon said in commentary, after the Aussie delivered a left hook in the second round of their rematch.

“He has taken on a far bigger man and knocked him out with pure brilliance.”

Speaking ahead of the event – held at the Brisbane convention center – promoter George Rose was full of praise for the young fighter, declaring that he would be the next Australian boxing champion.

“Liam is going to be our next world champion,” Rose said.

“A win here will put him into the top three in the WBO and puts him on that platform to be able to go for the world title.”

who is matias wheel

The 34-year-old Argentinian holds an impressive professional record (37-1-0) which has seen him have a decade-long career in the fight game, while he is currently ranked No.8 in the world.

Rueda’s most significant bout to date was when he challenged for the WBO featherweight title six years ago. He lost that fight to Mexican star Oscar Valdez, who claimed a second-round stoppage to capture the vacant title.

However, Rueda now has the chance to claim the WBO International title by beating Wilson in his hometown of Queensland and possibly add to his 32 career knockouts.

Justin Hodges boxing record

The 40-year old has a 3-2-0 record, with losses coming against fellow rugby league players Darcy Lussick and Earl.

Hodges’ most recent victory came when he got the better of former Newcastle Knights winger Nathan Ross via majority decision.

His previous two fights were won by knockout in 2019, against Rob Baron and Troy McMahon.

Ben Hannant boxing record

The man affectionately dubbed the ‘polar bear’ during his playing career has had just one professional fight to date (0-0-1). That came against Papalii with Hannant losing via unanimous decision.

The former prop took the fight on short notice against the much-facied Raiders forward, after his original opponent – Nelson Asofa-Solomona – was ruled out of the clash through injury.

“I’d never put gloves on until a month ago. So give me two months, teach me how to box… I’d love to go again,” Hannant said in his post-fight interview.

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