Ben Hannant might have lost to Josh Papalii on the All Stars Footy Rivals fight card but the former NRL star won plenty of admirers.
Ben Hannant might have lost to Josh Papalii on the judges’ scorecards on the All Stars Footy Rivals fight card but the former NRL star won plenty of admirers for his efforts.
Papalii defeated Hannant via unanimous decision with the crowd leaning heavily in the former Cowboys star’s favour throughout the fight. Hannant took the fight on short notice after the Storm ruled out Nelson Asofa-Solomona a month ago.
And the emotional former Origin star spoke at length after last night’s loss about how everybody doubted he would last a round against the Raiders prop.
The former Maroons forward said most people he spoke to in the lead-up to the fight were fearful about his chances and thought it would be a walk over. In a stirring message post fight, Hannant vowed to step into the ring again whether it be against Papalii or someone else.
“Tonight was the impossible task. Not one person backed me and said I was a chance to get through the first round. The only people that did were myself, my team, my wife and my kids,” Hannant said.
“It’s BS when people say it’s impossible, you can’t do something.
“Tonight was the perfect example, I was getting told by everyone I was going to die in the first round, get my head knocked off.
“It goes to show if you work hard you can do anything.”
Hannant added that he’d not only endured but enjoyed his time in the ring.
“The adrenaline rush, it was incredible. My whole career I had people telling me I couldn’t do it on the footy field. I never was very good at school, I couldn’t read or write, dyslexic, now I’m in radio,” he said.
“I’ve got eight kids and I’m trying to teach them. They’re like me, they’re not the smartest in the classroom, they’re not the most talented on the football field or in the sporting arena.
“But if you want something, try hard enough, work at it, don’t make excuses, and you learn from your mistakes, anything is possible.”
Hannant stayed the course with one of the most feared players in the NRL in Papalii, who has often been linked to a tilt at professional boxing through his career.
Papalii lost his mouthguard midway through the second round, while Hannant looked shaky late in the third. The former NRL forward said “Ricky [Stuart] was on the scorecards,” disputing that he’d lost to Papalii and claiming he had done enough to win the first two rounds before the Raiders star claimed the final round.
Papalii agreed, and was critical of his own performance.
“He just kept coming and to be honest I think the crowd was leaning the blue (corner) way, and so was I,” Papalii said.
“That was Benny’s fight, and I’m just going to get back to another nine-week camp.
“He should have (won the fight), I’m not going to sit here and be biased. He came in with three-four weeks preparation and my hat goes off to him. I’m just glad I wore the headgear tonight.
“He was catching me with shots I didn’t see coming, and that’s boxing. Everyone expected it to be a one way fight. That was putting pressure on myself to perform, but I knew the character of Benny.
“I’m definitely not going to take that fight. It was a solid performance from both of us. I’m happy I get to tick this off the list and we’ll see what’s next.”
Papalii’s fee and Hannant’s boxing gear for the charity bout is going to the Win The Day charity aimed at helping those dealing with rare childhood cancers.