Paul Gallen has slammed the "absolutely disgraceful" scenes at Justis Huni's weigh-in with Christian Tsoye, telling his boxing rival to "grow up".
Tsoye's camp were miffed when the weigh-in for Wednesday's Australian heavyweight title fight was held in front of a massive Huni vs Gallen poster, with the pair due to clash on June 16. Tsoye's image was nowhere to be seen, so the face-off was moved away from the offending poster at the insistence of his team.
Gallen said that the incident reflected poorly on Huni and called on him to take responsibility for his own career, rather than passing the buck to promoter Dean Lonergan.
"At the weigh-in, how they didn't even have Christian Tsoye's photo – absolutely disgraceful," Gallen told Wide World of Sports.
"I'll say this: Justis has got to quickly learn. He can act like he's a baby, like he's a kid; he's not a kid, he's 22 years-old. He can act like he's got nothing to do with it, it's not his fault, but he's got to learn real quick that he's the drawcard. His name is the one associated with it.
"For him not to know, to have no idea about it, that's a reflection on him. He can blame Dean Lonergan, he can blame whoever he wants or whatever he wants, but I'll say this: the day someone knocks him out or the day he retires, Dean Lonergan's not gonna be there for him. No one's gonna be there for him, so he's got to grow up.
"If he wants to go into this game and be as famous as they think he's going to be, he's got to grow up quick smart and start to learn that you've got to take responsibility for what people are doing around you, because it reflects on him."
Lonergan responded to the furore on Tuesday by telling Wide World of Sports: "Don't sweat the small stuff. It certainly wasn't intended to be a slight toward Christian Tsoye"; though Tsoye's trainer, Christian Ennor, branded the poster "disrespectful".
Gallen will be sitting ringside for the Sydney fight after the controversy and reckons: "I'll laugh if he (Huni) gets knocked out. I'll laugh."
The NRL great (11-0-1, 6 KOs) is in a bizarre limbo until Huni's fight against Tsoye (5-3-2, 4 KOs) ends. He has a touted $1 million pay day, plus all his training efforts, up in the air until Huni (3-0, 3 KOs) emerges victorious and unscathed.
"I'm a prize fighter, so I can't shy away from that and the money's going to be great," Gallen said.
"But I'm not desperate, so it's more about the frustration of trying to train as hard as you possibly can but only training 99 per cent, because to invest yourself into something wholly, you have to know it's definitely on.
"Up to this point, until 10 o'clock tonight, we don't know. I've got no doubt this is a ploy. This is what Lonergan's done, it's all about Justis, all to suit Justis and his preparation.
"I suppose that's what happens when you get into bed with the promoter of [the other] bloke; Huni's his main attraction, so I've got no one else to blame but myself. Hopefully at the end of the day, the upside's good enough for me and it will all be worthwhile."
All things going to plan, Gallen and Huni will hold a face-off and a press conference after the Tsoye fight. Gallen, fresh off a shock win over former world heavyweight champion Lucas Browne, has already been sparring in anticipation of fighting Huni and will be able to step-up his preparations after Wednesday night.
"We might get a photo. I'm not going to carry on or anything like that. Hopefully there's no one from his team that wants to carry on either, Gallen said.
"I'll just get in there and have a chat, I might even interview him, I have no idea what will happen; whatever the broadcasters want to do. At the end of the day, I'm there to watch him fight and know exactly if we're on or not on."
Tsoye is a shorter, stockier opponent for Huni, as Gallen will be. Huni intends to pick off both men with his jab and bank some ring time, in advance of an Olympic campaign that he hopes will reap a gold medal.
Gallen, who knocked out the towering Browne inside a round, will be ready to rumble.
"Just constant pressure, going forward," Gallen said of his game plan.
"He's a different opponent to Browne; Browne was all about power, as was Mark Hunt, this bloke's a pure boxer. So it's a totally different opponent but I'm certainly going to go forward on him.
" I'm probably not going to be able to get inside him as quickly as I was able to with Browne, it's probably going to take a few rounds but I've just got to keep working like that."
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