Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue: The bungle in the rumble

The wrong winner and mystery men lurking about - I can't wait for the movie.

Sonny Bill Williams is cutting a swathe through the boxing world. Photo / Getty Images
Sonny Bill Williams is cutting a swathe through the boxing world. Photo / Getty Images

Gee whiz. The Sonny Bill Williams fight turned out to be a bit dodgy, like nobody knew that his boxing career was a crock of you know what in the first place.

Friday night's fight, in which SBW "beat" Frans Botha, was mysteriously shortened, the wrong man mysteriously won and - this is the absolutely unbelievable bit - there are reports of a mystery man being seen near the boxing ring. The whole thing sounds hilarious. Can't wait for the film - and if only Edward G. Robinson was still alive to play the mystery man.

What weird timing. The bungle in the rumble has popped up just as Australian sport sets about clearing old vials of urine from its closet after a crime report said there was a lot of drug taking and match fixing going on.

Is Aussie sport linked to hopelessly disorganised crime? That's the question on everyone's lips after Friday night. The ripples are going to match the ones on Botha's wobbling torso. Botha was certainly prepared to cry "match-fixing", a sound to make the NRL cringe since SBW is about to return to their ranks with the Sydney Roosters.

As for drugs in sport, there must be strong ones about to persuade people to bet on this stuff. But don't worry, troops, the TAB has already got the whole thing sorted, deleting certain types of bets on future SBW fights while retaining your right to wager on the outcome. But isn't the outcome the major thing that was in doubt in Brisbane?

Beyond the endless inquiries, this is an emotional time and the heart goes out to Botha, the beaten boxer who must make the long flight home minus the precious LVWMQPXS heavyweight belt. With his dreams of travelling triumphantly in first class and getting extra scoops of pudding cruelly dashed, he faces a career in tatters because of the short round count. Apart from pinching the patty from out of his burger, it's difficult to know what more you could do to hurt the White Buffalo.

Those long, lonely hours of skipping training sessions, the endless analysis of previous SBW fight tapes during the ad breaks for WWF, the depths to which this boxer must have reached into his soul while also reaching into the cookie jar.

Okay, so I don't know all that, but he hadn't exactly conditioned himself in any obvious way to this untrained eye for the last two rounds of a 12-round contest. But waiting until round eight to tell him that it was now a 10-rounder is still very unfair. Call me a Botha apologist if you like, but he deserved to know by at least round four. As it turned out, it was SBW, all buffed and polished, who was fading fast.

There will be anguish in the streets of South Africa - first New Zealand beat them in a one-day cricket series, and now this. How much more can the South African sports public take?

But we're humming along over here. SBW is cutting a swathe through the boxing world, collecting belts like Warren Beatty collected girlfriends. SBDub's victory has gone some way to alleviating the pain we all felt when Shane Cameron failed to win the - having trouble not giggling here - world title against Danny Green.

Enough of Cameron, and back to SBW, the undisputed heavyweight champion of a gym in Sydney. I can exclusively reveal that Williams has been listed as the number one heavyweight contender for the TYCSWLH belt, and will fight a guy from Chernobyl who has days to live and once held the spit bucket for a guy from Chicago who knew a taxi driver who sparred three rounds with Joe Frazier.

The TAB will introduce a new bet in which you pick how many rounds the fight is scheduled for. Sky has won exclusive coverage rights. At a guess, it will cost subscribers $40 for the privilege. Sky will make the Chernobyl guy sound pretty good.

Those who actually attend the fight, to be held at a magnificent arena in Darwin, will notice mysterious men drifting around the ring. I've seen all the boxing films and if it teaches you one thing, it is that you can't have a decent fight without a few mystery men involved.

- NZ Herald

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Chris Rattue is a sports columnist for the New Zealand Herald.

Chris Rattue writes about a wide range of sports for the New Zealand Herald. He has covered numerous sporting events for the Herald including Rugby World Cups and the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

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