Hodges embracing role as public enemy No.1
NSW'S most hated Queenslander, Justin Hodges, says he'll use the jeers of the crowd in his professional boxing debut to silence his critics just as he did in rugby league.
The former Maroons agitator steps into the ring for the first time on Friday on the undercard of the Paul Gallen vs John Hopoate bout, and is already looking forward to the expected verbal fire coming from the sold-out Hordern Pavilion crowd.
Hodges fights fellow debutant Rob Baron, a brash-talking brute who warned his rival to sort out his life insurance policy before they square off.
"He's a lively character, and a lot of NSW people would love to see me get hit, that will just make it more interesting,' Hodges said.
"I've built my whole 16-year league career on people giving me crap on the sidelines, especially at Origin time, yelling out.
"But that's just made me more motivated.
"Sometimes you can go to a game and you're not feeling well, and it takes someone to yell at you and call you a name and that gets you fired up.
"That's how I've always responded. I'm sure it will happen on Friday night and I'll be right to go again."
Hodges and Baron will fight four by three-minute rounds, although Baron, 35, plans to fight only a fraction of that.
"I'll be knocking him out early, everyone wants to see me put him on the canvas and that's what I'm going to do," Baron said.
"He was a tough guy on the footy field because he had 12 teammates around him, now he's going to be all on his own, and he can't hide."
Hodges, 36, retired from league in 2015 and has decided to take up a professional boxing career after overcoming a knee operation 18 months ago.
"I've grown up with boxing, I watched my dad hit the bag in the backyard in Cairns, I've always been around when Choc [Anthony Mundine] fought, and it's something I've thought about so why not have a couple while the body still allows me to," Hodges said.