NRL star Reagan Campbell-Gillard is preparing to make his professional boxing debut against Jason Taumalolo in Townsville on October 7 – and he’s revealed his training has been every bit as bruising as playing footy.
The ‘Battle on the Reef’ event will see current rugby league stars Junior Paulo, Tevita Pangai Junior, Nelson Asofa-Solomona and former players Matt Cooper, Justin Hodges and Ben Hannant feature on the all-star card.
Australian boxing sensation Paulo Aokuso will also square off with Gabriel Omar Diaz for the IBO Intercontinental light heavyweight title on the same card.
Campbell-Gillard is new to the sport, and when he spoke with Daily Mail Australia was displaying a painful-looking black eye.
‘Yeah, that’s from Junior,’ he laughed gesturing to his shiner. ‘That’s a right hand.
NRL star Reagan Campbell-Gillard is currently training for his first pro fight
Campbell-Gillard has been sparring with Eels teammate Junior Paulo (right, pictured with trainer Justin Fitzgerald, centre)
‘It sort of happened towards the backend of our last round yesterday. I saw it coming, but I wasn’t quick enough to block it.
‘I’ve always said if I can survive the rounds with Junior and I’m only walking away with a black eye, I’ll take that as a win.’
Campbell-Gillard says training with Paulo twice a day for the past three weeks and is really enjoying the new challenge.
The Paramatta prop says he didn’t need too much convincing to take the fight, as it’s always something he’d been curious about.
‘I just needed two yesses to do it. One from her [Reagan’s partner] and one from Junior. I had a few boys at training saying to take the challenge as well.’
Eels enforcer Paulo says that his Parramatta partner in crime is selling himself short – and that Campbell-Gillard has been really putting in the ‘hard yards’.
‘He’s a tough cookie,’ said Paulo respectfully.
‘I don’t want to say too much … but there’s been some blood drawn in that boxing gym and it certainly hasn’t been his.
‘Reggie is so keen and learning every day – and that’s all you can ask. And that mindset is going to get him right for fight night.’
Campbell-Gillard said he checked with his partner (pictured together) before he decided to take the bout
Paulo said Campbell-Gillard has been performing very well in the gym – and has drawn blood
The Eels enforcer will square off against former footy star Ben Hannant on the same card
Paulo will be taking on former NRL hardman Ben Hannant, who in his last fight went the distance with Paul Gallen in a spiteful encounter.
Paulo, who has also stepped in the ring with Gallen, said he won’t take the former Broncos star lightly.
‘You can never underestimate anyone who steps in the ring,’ he said.
‘Ben’s been pretty active over the last couple of years. He fought Gal last year and went the distance – so you can’t underestimate anyone.
‘I’ve just got to trust my boxing instincts when I get out there and all the work I’ve put in.’
Catch all the action from ‘Battle on the Reef’ on October 7, available to watch via pay-per-view live and exclusively on Stan Sport.