Botha: SBW should be shaking
Francois Botha (Gallo Images)
Durban - Former IBF world heavyweight boxing champion Francois Botha says New Zealand rugby star Sonny Bill Williams is in for a "rude awakening" when they meet in the ring.
"I’ve seen him as a boxer in the few fights that he’s had, and all I can say is he’s in for a rude awakening," said Botha, 44, one of South Africa’s most prominent boxers.
"He’s going to be hit harder than he’s ever been before. If I was in his shoes, I’d be shaking."
The fight between the two was confirmed on Tuesday, with World Sport Promotions announcing in Durban that the bout would take place on November 24 in Brisbane, Australia.
The 10-round contest will take place at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre after organisers confirmed they did not have enough financiers for the bout to take place in South Africa.
Botha, nicknamed "White Buffalo", has 60 fights under his belt, including duels with Mike Tyson, Evander Holyfield, Lennox Lewis and Wladimir Klitschko.
He last fought in June last year when he crushed young heavyweight Flo Simba via a sixth round knockout.
"I fought a 21-year-old recently who had 10 knockouts and look what I did to him," he said. "I destroyed his career."
Williams, 27, has been capped 19 times by the All Blacks and has won all five of his professional fights, the latest in February when he claimed the New Zealand heavyweight title following a first-round knock-out of Clarence Tillman.
Botha said: "He’s never been in this league, so let’s see what he can do when he has a real fighter in front of him."
He said his attraction to fighting Williams stemmed from his popularity on the rugby field.
"He is a superstar in rugby. He has worldwide acclaim. He’s very popular now, being a boxer, so we’re capturing fans of two sports. That’s the only reason I’m doing this."
His coach Hardy Mileham insisted they were not underestimating their opponent.
"We’re not under-rating him at all," said Mileham.
"We’ve seen his boxing skills and he’s not bad, but we’re training thoroughly for 10 rounds."
Williams said he was looking forward to the challenge of taking on the most celebrated boxer of his career.
"I'll be stepping into the ring against a very experienced fighter who has all the great heavyweights of the last decade on his record," he said.
"But I feel I have prepared well. I can get the job done. If he is taking me lightly he will be in for a shock. He sees me only as a rugby player. This will be his mistake on the night."