Sonny Bill Williams has lost the man who transformed his punch as the All Blacks star prepares for his biggest test in the boxing ring.
Australian boxing legend Tony Mundine said he wouldn't be in Williams' corner for the November 24 fight with South African Francois Botha.
Mundine told Sydney newspaper the Daily Telegraph that issues between his son, Anthony Mundine, and Williams' manager Khoder Nasser were at the heart of his withdrawal.
"No I'm not training Sonny Bill," Mundine told the newspaper.
"My son had a blue with Khoder Nasser so that's the end to it."
"I haven't told Sonny Bill yet. I love the boy and I love his brothers. They're good people."
"He's got plenty of ability I wish him well. I just can't be involved while Khoder is involved in the fight."
"Anthony is my son and my only son. Of course I stick by him."
Tony took over from Anthony as Williams' trainer for his last fight. He was adamant Williams lacked power because of poor technique and believed he could quickly rectify that.
The result was a first round knockout of American Clarence Tillman in Hamilton, a result that gave Williams the New Zealand heavyweight belt.
Botha is old at 44 but has massive experience with 48 wins from 59 pro fights, compared to Williams unbeaten run through five bouts.
And Botha has been in the ring with some of the best in the game, including world champions Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Vladimir Klitschko and Evander Holyfield.
It's a risky fight for Williams and those risks might just have increased with the absence of Mundine, an old warhorse who Williams seemed to have a real affinity with.
Williams will break from his club rugby duties in Japan to take the fight.
- © Fairfax NZ News