Boxing officials - no reprieve for SBW opponent

By Edward Gay

Richard Tutaki. Photo / Christine Cornege
Richard Tutaki. Photo / Christine Cornege

Supporters of the boxer who lost the chance to fight Sonny Bill Williams after details of criminal allegations emerged want officials to reconsider their decision to call off the bout.

Tutaki was to fight the All Black at Hamilton's Claudelands Arena next month but was axed after the Weekend Herald revealed he had been arrested on drugs charges.

Tutaki appeared in the Auckland District Court today charged with possession of methamphetamine and drug utensils, breach of bail, three counts of receiving stolen property, unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle, dangerous driving, failing to stop for police, failing to remain stopped and giving false details to police.

He was granted bail after eight nights in custody on condition that he lives at his Mt Roskill home, doesn't drink alcohol or take drugs and reports to probation.

Tutaki gave the thumbs-up to supporters in the public gallery as he was taken away by a policeman to sign his bail bond.

Outside court Tutaki supporter Waha Saifiti said the boxer will go back into training, which includes sparring and road running.

Saifiti said the Tutaki camp want to persuade officials at the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association - who canned the fight - to change their mind.

He said he had been helping Tutaki with his training and questioned why Williams would want to fight replacement fighter Clarence Tillman III.

The New Orleans boxer has a moderate professional record of 11 wins, eight losses and two draws. That record includes a win over Tutaki in April last year.

"Does he want a real opponent?'' Saifiti asked. "The excitement of Richard fighting this guy ... I can't see why it can't go ahead.''

Saifiti said Tutaki will be looking forward to a "decent meal'' but his mental state was good and he would go straight back into training.

But Boxing Association secretary Pat Leonard said Tutaki would not be considered as a contender until the criminal charges had been dealt with.

"He has got himself into serious trouble and he will have to clear that up.''

He said the fight promoter was "protecting the name'' of Williams and demanded that Tutaki be dropped.

"We have concurred.''

Williams has told media that he was "gutted'' his fight with Tutaki has been cancelled and described it as a setback for his career.

"It's pretty disappointing the cops got to Richard before I could.''

Tutaki was arrested after failing to turn up to court last Tuesday.

His lawyer, Mary Kennedy, said her client made a "genuine mistake'' about the court date.

She said he had turned up to previous appearances and on one occasion spent most of the day waiting for his case to be called.

She said her client had been in training for the bout with Williams and had no reason not to turn up to court.

Transcripts of his previous appearance were read by Community Magistrate Rebecca Ewert at court today.

"I am prepared to accept that on this occasion there has been some confusion,'' Ms Ewert said.

But she warned Tutaki that he had to reappear next week and if he did not turn up, would be remanded in custody.

- NZ Herald

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