Rugby league enforcer Tevita Pangai Jr has delivered a brutal knock out victory in just his second professional fight in devastating scenes.
Fighting on the undercard of the Sonny Bill Williams v Mark Hunt bout, Pangai Jr floored Jeremiah Tupai-ui in the second round with a swift left hand jab.
The brutal punch dropped Tupai-ui immediately as the referee called the fight over.
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“Tevita on a tear – wow,” commentator Andy Raymond said on Stan Sport.
“What a beauty! It will be his (Tupai-ui’s) pride hurting more than anything.”
It’s Pangai Jr’s second career KO from two fights, after he opted to miss Tonga’s Rugby World Cup campaign to take part in the bout on Saturday night.
The Bulldogs big man endured a tough 2022 NRL season as he failed to live up to the hype of his $2.2 million pay packet, and was eventually dropped to reserve grade.
But after committing to the Tupai-ui fight, Pangai Jr dropped 12kg from his frame and promised incoming Dogs coach Cameron Ciraldo he’d stay there for 2023.
“I just told him that if I don’t come under 110kg then he can pretty much sack me. I’m a man of my word, if I don’t come in at 110kg then I’ll leave,” Pangai Jr told Nine Sydney this week.
“(I) got comfortable and let the results get to me. But we’re professional athletes, we get paid well to put a performance in for our fans and members. I didn’t quite do that last year.”
Pangai Jr said a sit-down conversation with Bulldogs general manager Phil Gould was the “wake up call” he needed.
“He just told me I need to have a better attitude coming into training and he‘s not going to accept the stuff I did last year, so it’s a good wake-up call,” he said.
And Gould was clearly in a jovial mood post-fight as he made light of his conversation with Pangai Jr.
“Gee whiz. I better not give TPJ too much cheek!!” he tweeted.
Originally published as ‘Gee whiz’: Under-fire Bulldog bulldozes opponent with brutal KO