By stepping in the ring with Frans Botha, Sonny Bill
Williams will add another layer to his carefully crafted
Sonny Bill Williams will emerge victorious from tonight's
stoush with the White Buffalo.
He can't lose. Sure, he could get knocked out by ageing
never-quite-was South African Frans Botha, or be deemed to
have lost the fight (like that'll happen) by the judges, but
Williams will still walk away the big winner.
For a boxer whose opponents so far include a pub hard case, a
sickness beneficiary and an aspiring actor, being defeated by
someone who has been in there with Wladimir Klitschko,
Evander Holyfield and Mike Tyson would be no disgrace.
Simply by stepping in the ring with Botha, SBW will add
another layer to his carefully crafted legend. Most
importantly, brand SBW will be opening up another major
market. South Africa hosts over 50 million citizens,
providing vast commercial opportunities for the one-time
Warriors reject. "SBW Biltong - the meat snack of legends,"
is coming to a store near you, citizens of Pietermaritzburg.
Mark my words.
The brand is the bottom line with Williams. For a footy
player who as a kid couldn't crack his home town club but who
turned in a couple of decent seasons for the Bulldogs before
setting off an his OE, Williams' exposure has reached
His transformation from a wide-eyed kid with a offload,
six-pack and what one female boxing aficionado describes as a
"pretty average boat race"into an international phenomenon
will one day be requisite reading for marketing students the
Those who lambasted Williams' decision to walk out on a
restrictive, small money deal with the Bulldogs five years
ago might want to revisit their position. The boy has done
good, and it's not like the sky fell in on the NRL or the
Kiwis following his exit.
Warriors officials are already counting the dollars as they
salivate over the opportunity to welcome SBW to Eden Park
when the Roosters come to town in round two of the NRL. They
know full well a good few more seats will have bums on them
if the soon to be WBA international heavyweight champion
lines up for the Chooks.
SBW is good for business all right, even if a good chunk of
what he does is just a little preposterous.
Tonight's fight certainly has the mark of ridiculousness on
it. The idea that after just 16 total rounds against the
likes of Gary Gurr and morbidly obese gospel singer Alipate
Liava'a, Williams is now ready to take on a former title
contender with 350 rounds under his belt is bizarre. Botha
may be 44, but it's not like he's lost any limbs recently.
It's so whacky, in fact, that the fight is near guaranteed to
produce a whacky result.
Predicting an outcome simply isn't possible. There are just
too many vagaries in professional boxing. Judging by his
Twitter outburst after watching his great mate Anthony
Mundine lose a fight on a routine unanimous points decision
last week, Williams doesn't have much faith in the sport's
What can be said with confidence is that we are not going to
see 12 rounds of intense, high calibre heavyweight boxing.
Williams is still very much a novice. Having seen Paul Gallen
in action recently, to these eyes Williams isn't even the
best fighter in the NRL. If he was a normal human being who
was serious about progressing his boxing career, Williams
would be taking on the local prospects such as Joey Wilson
and Afa Tatupu.
But Williams isn't normal. And he and shrewd manager Khoder
Nasser know full well a meritorious victory over an Auckland
meat delivery man wouldn't sell as much biltong as a dubious
one over an opponent such as Botha.
Taking on Botha is just plain crazy - unless of course you
know you can't really lose.
- Steve Deane of the NZ Herald