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Junior Paulo and Neville Costigan are set to face off in February.

Paramatta Eels powerhouse Junior Paulo has had a request to to skip his side’s pre-season training so he can prepare for an upcoming boxing bout denied.

The prop is set to don the gloves against former Raiders and QLD star Neville Costigan at the All Stars Rugby League fight night on February 12 in Townsville.

But despite his hopes that Eels coach Brad Arthur will allow him to skip pre-season to focus on the fight, the Eels on Sunday tweeted that he would return to pre-season training ‘as agreed’.

Paulo had told The Daily Telegraph: “I am two weeks into a seven-week fight camp and I am hoping to continue the boxing training full-time.

“I have been training six days a week and I am hoping I will be able to continue instead of returning to the Eels pre-season. I haven’t heard back yet but I am hoping he (Brad) will be okay with it. I think he knows that the preparation I am doing for this fight will have me coming back at my best for the season.”

But the Eels responded with a public statement on Twitter, writing: “The Eels and Junior Paulo have always maintained that his first priority is to be ready for our trial against the Panthers in February.


“All of his training is being monitored and overseen by the Eels high performance department to make sure his [sic] ready for the 2021 season.

“Junior will be returning to pre-season training in January as agreed.”

Paulo had claimed that boxing training would have him fitter than ever for the new NRL season.

“I am training harder than ever and it will be the best preparation I can have for the 2021 season,” he said.

“The fittest I have ever been is before my fight in 2016 and I respond well to the different style training. I think Brad knows that this type of training will have me at my best for the start of the season.”

It will be just the 27-year-old’s second fight – the first was a loss to Paul Gallen in 2016 – but Paulo has signalled his intent to become a full-time boxer once his NRL career concludes.

“I have given it a bit of thought and I would like to take it up full time one day. League is all I have ever known and boxing is something I definitely want to pursue once I finish football.”

In what would be another juicy all-NRL clash, Paulo also said he’d like to face off with Maroons star Jai Arrow in the ring.

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