Boxing: Team Tua keen to take on Williams to 'restore credibility'

By Paul Lewis

Promoter David Higgins, of Duco, said Botha was 'robbed' in a points decision awarded over 10 rounds when everyone was expecting 12 rounds. File photo / Getty Images
Promoter David Higgins, of Duco, said Botha was 'robbed' in a points decision awarded over 10 rounds when everyone was expecting 12 rounds. File photo / Getty Images

David Tua's camp have challenged Sonny Bill Williams to a heavyweight title fight to "restore credibility" to the sport after the farcical finish to the Williams-Francois Botha bout in Brisbane on Friday night.

Promoter David Higgins, of Duco, said Botha was "robbed" in a points decision awarded over 10 rounds when everyone was expecting 12 rounds - and with Williams hanging on, desperately close to being knocked out at the end of the 10th.

"What I saw last night was an ageing warrior [Botha] who was robbed," said Higgins. "He is arguably of the same era as David Tua and I thought he was hard done by. There is overwhelming evidence that fight was supposed to go 12 rounds and for it to end like that certainly looked bad.

"It wasn't good for the sport, not good for the credibility of the sport. It's my understanding that all the marketing materials and communications and the programmes had it as 12 rounds. So we talked about it and thought we would give Sonny Bill the opportunity to go up against another warrior of the same kind of vintage.

"They always refer to Sonny Bill as the New Zealand heavyweight champion but that's a bit of a joke, too. I mean, how can you be the heavyweight champion and not rated in the top five? But Khoder Nasser [Williams' manager] has been using it as a marketing tool.

"This business with the rounds looked really bad so we'd like to give Sonny Bill, a chance to restore some credibility to the sport," said Higgins. "Right now, we are looking for an opponent for David and we'd like to offer that fight to Sonny Bill and his people.

"I'm not sure they will take the fight. I'm thinking they would probably rather drop the belt [surrender the New Zealand title] than take the fight."

"Dropping the belt" is what happens if titleholders do not fight challengers rated as mandatory by boxing associations. Higgins thought Williams could fight one or more bouts against special challengers - like the Botha fight - but would eventually be directed to fight an opponent ranked by his home association or surrender the title.

Williams' bout against Botha was also for the World Boxing Association international heavyweight title - one of those lesser titles put up by boxing associations to bestow an air of credibility to what is, in effect, only a non-title fight.

Lance Revill, the president of the New Zealand Professional Boxing Association and the body which manages the New Zealand title held by Williams, said from Rarotonga that he had been unable to watch the Botha fight and would not comment.

Higgins, asked how a fight could be shortened from 12 rounds to 10 during the bout, said some bouts were controlled by promoters who paid all those involved - the judges, the referee, sometimes even the commentators - and who might then be subject to suggestion.

"In those circumstances, I would imagine that all it takes is for the promoter to front up to a judge or a referee, eyeball them and say, 'It's a 10-rounder, got it?' No one worried about credibility or the integrity of the sport would ever dream of doing that - but that's all it would take."

Higgins also said the Williams-Anthony Mundine-Nasser camp got it wrong when Mundine was well beaten by Daniel Geale recently.

"Geale won an overwhelming number of rounds. It wasn't even close. Anyone who knew anything about boxing would know that. After the fight, Mundine left the ring and wouldn't say anything, saying later that he'd been robbed. If he watches the video, he'd see he wasn't."

- Herald on Sunday

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