Sonny Bill Williams' next fight may not feature the 'pick the
round' betting option, the TAB decided today.
Williams' unanimous points victory over Francois Botha in
Brisbane on Friday was tarnished by a dispute surrounding the
length of the bout, with the scheduled 12 rounds cut to 10.
The TAB was forced to refund all 'pick the round' bets and,
after meeting today, announced it would hold the right to
remove the betting option on any future boxing matches.
"We'll have to take into account who's fighting, who's
promoting, what's the title, what's the belt," said TAB head
bookmaker Mark Stafford. "There's a lot of hearsay and
speculation but, until we're presented with all the facts in
front of us, we can't make a decision.
"By and large, boxing's fine. It's just when there's a few
anomalies that could come up where we'll have to be
Those anomalies have cropped up in three of Williams' six
professional fights, a track record Stafford agreed was "not
good". But he said the TAB would be remiss to remove the
option entirely, considered its popularity and the interest
Williams continues to generate.
"You could argue he's probably one of our most popular sports
people currently. He creates huge amounts of interest, and
even if he was fighting again this weekend people would want
to bet on it. So we've got to provide a product our customers
The new proviso will not be tested by Williams until the end
of the year at the earliest, with his return to rugby league
with the Sydney City Roosters taking precedence for now.
Whether his next fight is a rematch against the aggrieved
Botha - whose previous experience includes losses to Mike
Tyson and Lennox Lewis - is now in doubt, after the veteran
South African reportedly failed a drugs test in the lead-up
to the bout.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Botha submitted a
urine sample on Tuesday last week which revealed the presence
of phentermine, a banned stimulant - though the legitimacy of
that test has since been questioned.
Australian National Boxing Federation (ANBF) committee member
John Hogg said it would be "bizarre" if Botha was even
subject to a test.
Hogg, an ANBF Queensland representative, sent Botha for his
medical last week and he told the Courier Mail boxers
competing in the state of Queensland were not required to be
tested for performance enhancing drugs.
"I sent Frans for a complete medical which tested him for
hepatitis and Aids etc, but that is the only testing required
of professional boxers," Hogg said. "I have never heard of
[Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority] spot-testing
professional boxers in Queensland.
"I would think I would have heard about ASADA testing Botha
or Sonny Bill, because they have never showed up to boxing
gyms in Queensland or on fight night."
An ASADA spokesman told the Courier Mail the body was not in
a position to make a formal comment on the issue but
typically boxing title fights fell out of their jurisdiction.
With doping allegations adding to the confusion over the
length, the fight did not lack for controversy but boxing
enthusiast Sir Bob Jones thought it was deficient in every
Sir Bob, who is the manager of New Zealand's brightest
heavyweight prospect Joseph Parker, said everything about the
fight was "seedy and nasty".
"It's an invasion of a pure sport ... by impure people," he
told Radio Live today. "I exclude Williams from that. He just
seems to be an idiot adrift on a float of publicity, but it
should never be given this attention."