Sonny Bill blind to box­ing buf­foon­ery

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT - JOSEPH RO­MANOS

Box­ing is fast go­ing the way of pro­fes­sional wrestling, and Sonny Bill Wil­liams is has­ten­ing the slide. Pro­fes­sional wrestling was once a se­ri­ous, com­pet­i­tive sport. By the 1930s it was re­sort­ing to gim­mickry, though many wrestlers, such as Earl Mc­Cready and Lofty Blom­field, were tal­ented ath­letes.

Th­ese days pro­fes­sional wrestling is a joke in which any pub­lic­ity stunt that gen­er­ates me­dia at­ten­tion and draws spec­ta­tors is ac­cept­able.

Box­ing’s sit­u­a­tion is al­most as dire. For decades the sport at the top level in the United States was plagued by mafia involvement, with fixed fights set up by crooked or­gan­i­sa­tions. Now there are other prob­lems.

Heavy­weight ti­tle fights over the past two decades have fea­tured a man who paraglided into the ring dur­ing a bout, the in­fa­mous Mike Tyson ear-bit­ing of Evan­der Holy­field, Oliver McCall’s ner­vous break­down against Len­nox Lewis and An­drew Golota’s dis­qual­i­fi­ca­tion for de­lib­er­ately and re­peat­edly punch­ing low. Cred­i­bil­ity has van­ished. In New Zealand, it’s un­fair to call pro­fes­sional box­ing a sport. That would dis­hon­our thou­sands of se­ri­ous sports­men and women.

The much-hyped an­nual Fight for Life, while it earns pro­moter Dean Lon­er­gan a pile of money, makes a mock­ery of box­ing. It is rip­ping off the sport.

And now there’s Sonny Bill. By beat­ing South African Frans Botha in Bris­bane the other night, he has lifted his record to six wins from six fights.

His first fight, in May 2009, was against North Shore builder Gary (The Ba­boon) Gurr and lasted just over a round. Gurr could not box.

Next up was grossly over­weight store­man Ryan Ho­gan, he of the enor­mous beer gut. That one fin­ished even quicker.

Wil­liams’ third fight was against Syd­ney fork­lift driver Scott Lewis, who en­tered the ring with ad­ver­tis­ing signs scrawled across his back.

Wil­liams won a six-rounder on points.

Sick­ness ben­e­fi­ciary (truly) Ali­pate Li­ava’a was wheeled into the ring next, in June 2011. The bloated 43-year-old was proud to sur­vive six rounds – a pointer to Wil­liams’ lack of box­ing abil­ity – though not so pleased later when he had the big ACC ‘‘ Please ex­plain’’.

Wil­liams’ fifth fight was his most far­ci­cal. He beat grossly fat Amer­i­can Clarence Till­man in one round to win the ‘‘New Zealand pro­fes­sional heavy­weight ti­tle’’, as il­log­i­cal as that sounds. Ti­tles in box­ing are mean­ing­less, of course.

Till­man was a late sub­sti­tute for Richard Tu­taki, who was pre­vented from fight­ing af­ter he failed to ap­pear in court to an­swer 10 charges, in­clud­ing pos­ses­sion of metham­phetamine.

Then there was Botha. Ap­par­ently the fight was WBAen­dorsed, though the WBA de­nied it knew any­thing about it. The length of the bout was con­tro­ver­sially cut from 12 to 10 rounds, which cost Botha a prob­a­ble vic­tory and was so dodgy that bet­ting agen­cies had to re­fund pun­ters’ money.

To top it off, Botha then went and failed the drugs test.

Wil­liams’ agent/man­ager Koder Nasser had a lot to say af­ter­wards. Much of it was in­flam­ma­tory and al­most none made sense.

It’s a pity Wil­liams in­volves him­self in th­ese tawdry box­ing an­tics.

He is a great foot­baller – league and rugby union.

In­stead he makes him­self a laugh­ing stock of the sports world. The amaz­ing thing is that he can’t see it.

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