Sonny Bill Williams admitted excitement and nerves ahead of his first New Zealand heavyweight title fight, but the All Black remained cool when opponent Richard Tutaki warned he would be "tested".
The match-up between Williams, with just four fights under his belt, and experienced boxer Tutaki was announced yesterday in Hamilton. The pair will meet in the ring at Claudelands Arena on February 8.
Williams, who will be based in Hamilton for his first season with the Chiefs Super 15 franchise, said he got "dancing fever" when he stepped into the boxing ring.
"You don't want to dance into a right hand though," Tutaki goaded.
"I hope not, bro," Williams, 26, replied. "You don't want to dance into mine too, brother. You say you're from a strong tribe, I'm from a strong tribe too, bro. Just because of who I am don't think that I [will] back down because I won't, brother."
Tutaki, 33, boasted he had not been knocked out in 50 fights.
Williams said he wanted to challenge himself and with his first Super 15 fixture 17 days after the national title fight, he had enough preparation time to get ready for the battle.
The former Australian-based rugby league star said he would return to Sydney to spar with the likes of friend and trainer Anthony Mundine in the lead-up to the bout.
And in New Zealand he hoped to practice with friend and Chiefs teammate Liam Messam. He dismissed comments from Fight for Life organiser Dean Lonergan that Messam could out-box Williams.
"You always have your detractors. I'm not going to sit here and dwell on all the negatives because there's a few of those out there."
He and Messam had trained a lot during the World Cup - they were "tight" and he would ask for some tips.
"I might ask Hayley [Holt] to jump in too," he said.
Williams earlier asked The Crowd Goes Wild reporter Holt, who beat surfer Paige Hareb on points in a Fight for Life bout at the weekend, to join his card.
"She was looking sharp."
Montana Catering director Dallas Fisher had helped broker the deal to secure the event for Claudelands.
He said the evening would offer prime floor seat viewing for more than 1000 corporates with another 4000-plus in the stands.By Natalie Akoorie Email Natalie