Tigers Josh Aloiai is tackled by Newcastle's Connor Watson during the Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights NRL match at Leichhardt Oval. Picture: Brett Costello
Tigers Josh Aloiai is tackled by Newcastle's Connor Watson during the Wests Tigers v Newcastle Knights NRL match at Leichhardt Oval. Picture: Brett Costello

Shock contender lays claim to best fighter in the game

Wests Tigers prop Josh Aloiai doesn't want to fight Mike Tyson.

Or Paul Gallen.

In fact, when it comes to talking up his boxing ability, this quietly-spoken New Zealander has little interest in calling out anyone specifically.

But as for how he would go?

"Ah, I like to fight," Aloiai revealed this week.

"And I'd back myself against anyone in the NRL".

Raised in a proud Auckland fight family, Aloiai has emerged as a surprise contender for rugby league's best thrower of hands.

Better, the Tigers No.8 is also now looking to make his professional boxing debut later this year if, apart from staying injury free, an "exciting" fight can be made when the NRL season concludes.

Already, talks are underway to pit Melbourne enforcer Nelson Asofa-Solomona against Toronto Wolfpack forward Darcy Lussick, while NSW Origin great Paul Gallen is in discussions with cult UFC favourite Mark Hunt.

Yet more than a couple of good judges reckon Aloiai, who enjoyed a strong amateur career growing up in New Zealand, is the undeniable pick of all NRL heavyweights.

While the Samoan Test representative has not fought since 2017,when he secured a second-round KO, he still trains and spars regularly, while also boasting his own boxing coach.

Darcy Lussick knocks down Justin Hodges.
Darcy Lussick knocks down Justin Hodges.

So despite not being much of a talker, and proving something of an NRL cleanskin on-field, a push is now underway to have the 24-year-old join fellow crossover heavyweights like AFL great Barry Hall, Queensland FOG Justin Hodges and duel international Sonny Bill Williams.

Asking about potentially fighting at the end of this year, Aloiai said: "It's definitely in the back of my mind.

"And if there are some exciting fights available I'll do it.

"I like fighting and I like to box.

"I've grown up in a boxing family and spent some time in the gym.

"So I've definitely got a passion for it."

Apart from having two brothers who box, Aloiai's dad is also a purple belt in Brazilian jiu-jitsu.

Josh Aloiai says boxing helped keep him in shape during lockdown.
Josh Aloiai says boxing helped keep him in shape during lockdown.

The Tigers forward also credits his boxing work for keeping him in shape during the recent NRL lockdown.

"I've just been practising good habits - shadow boxing, drilling, footwork," he said. "When my body can handle some extra training, I find boxing is a good way to go.

"So I've stayed active.

"Do some sparring and training, try to sharpen my tools where I can.

"I've also helped my brothers prepare for their fights, go into camps with them.

Despite suggestions he could have made a real career in fighting, Aloiai insists he is instead happy to be increasingly making his mark in the Wests Tigers pack.

"Growing up, it was one or the other," he said of the two sports.

Aloiai will steer clear of Mike Tyson’s comeback.
Aloiai will steer clear of Mike Tyson’s comeback.

"There is only so much time to pursue a career and rugby league was the one I decided to go after."

And as for what he makes of that recent push to catapult either Hall or SBW into a fight with Tyson, now 53?

"No," he laughed. "Wouldn't back myself against him."

 

Originally published as Shock contender lays claim to best fighter in the game


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