In a controversial fight between the rugby-league player/boxer Sonny Bill Williams and Francois ‘White Buffalo’ Botha, the result came down to points and the decision was unanimous in SBWs favour.
The controversy however started when the match referee inexplicably announced the final round at the start of the 10th in which was touted as a 12 round fight. At this stage the rugby superstar was bleeding from the nose and looking the worse for wear. In the 10th round Botha was all over Williams like a bucket of deep fried chicken. The 27 year old Williams kept on hanging onto the 44 year old South African in attempt to run down the clock and avoid a knock-out, a point was deducted, but at this stage he knew he was already far ahead on points.
Sonny Bill’s shape and conditioning which epitomizes male fitness versus the aging boxing Buffalo who looked like a Santa Clause impersonator with his big belly and jolly white beard was not the greatest title fight in the history of the sport. If Botha had won, gyms would be empty and exercise supplements flushed down the toilet. The first 6 rounds was a standard heavyweight bout, the two fighters testing each other and trying to exploit weaknesses. The experience of Botha clearly visible in the way he kept talking to the boxing rookie, trying to lure him into a mistake, but in those 6 rounds SBWs good footwork and long jabs had seen him build up enough points, while Botha was just trying to stretch the fight for as long as possible.
From the 7th it looked more like a bar room brawl, with both fighters ignoring instructions from the diminutive match official. Holding each other in close quarters and giving each other little after-blows every time they had to break up or after the bell went. This tactic started to get under SBWs skin, and the inexperience started to tell, as the young contender started making mistakes which let the old pro in to land a couple of big blows. With SBW seemingly out on his feet the last round, he had to dig deep to avoid defeat and made sure he did.
The final bell rang and the judges score cards were tallied up. SBW by unanimous points decision won the vacant WBA International Heavyweight title, which makes the call to change the bout to only 10 rounds even suspect, as a standard title fight is 12 rounds.
In the post match interviews Francois Botha rallied the crowd behind him to get a rematch and also in claiming victory. But the hits SBW got in during the opening rounds turned out to be too many for the South African.
With Sonny Bill officially returning to Rugby League with the Sydney Roosters on Monday, it will only be speculation to say a rematch is on the cards sometime soon.