‘I’d back myself against anyone in NRL’: Aloiai eyes off-season bout
Author - Brad Walter
NRL.com Senior Reporter
Timestamp - Wed 27 May 2020, 09:58 AM
Josh Aloiai has been touted as the best boxer in the Telstra Premiership and the Wests Tigers forward doesn’t shy away from the claim, declaring: “I’d back myself against anyone in the NRL.”
Aloiai grew up in a boxing family and his late father, Sefilino, was a New Zealand jiu-jitsu champion.
The 24-year-old has boxed since he was young and had an amateur fight in Sydney at the end of the 2017 season, winning by knockout in the second round.
While the NRL season was suspended, Aloiai stepped up his boxing training and he is keen for another off-season fight, with the likes of Paul Gallen or Darcy Lussick holding no fears for him.
“It’s definitely in the back of my mind. If I had the opportunity, if I wasn’t nursing injuries or if there were some exciting fights available, I would do it,” said Aloiai, who has been named in the front row for Saturday’s match against Cronulla at Bankwest Stadium.
“I like boxing and I like fighting. I grew up in a boxing family and I had brothers that boxed in a boxing gym so I have got a passion for it. I had a fair few fights in New Zealand and I had one in the off-season a few years ago in Australia.”
The Samoa international has been training under Hassan El-Achrafi at the Final Round gym in Prestons and turned more to boxing sessions while unable to train with the Tigers for five weeks while the NRL season was suspended.
“You still just practise good habits, and shadow boxing and footwork,” he said. “When we were allowed to I trained one-on-one with a trainer.”
Growing up in Auckland, he was considered equally talented at boxing or league but had to choose between the sports.
“You only have so much time to pursue one career so rugby league was the one I went after,” Aloiai said.
"But I try to stay pretty active and sharpen my tools when I can.
“I helped my brothers prepare for their fights, I was in their training camps. I stay sparring and stay training, even since I have been in Australia. When my body can handle doing a bit of extra stuff boxing is a good way to go for me.”
Those who have trained with him believe he has the ability to be one of Australia’s top heavyweights.
Emerging heavyweight Jackson Murray, one of Aloiai’s sparring partners, predicted he would beat Gallen.
“From what I’ve seen, and I’m mates with Paul Gallen, I’d back Josh,” Murray said. "If he did it consistently, he’d be one of the best in Australia.
“I’m not even talking the code-crossers either – the footy guys coming over – I’m saying he’d be up there with some of the best in Australia after a few of the more well-known guys.”