Hey Sonny Bill, I'm scared too
At a press conference on Tuesday, Sonny Bill Williams made an unusual break with the pre-fight pugilist's charter by making a rare admission: He is worried.
Thanks to this badly-timed confession, I too am now bricking it.
It appears that both of us neglected to search deeper than the first two links presented to us by Google when we first looked up his opponent Francois Botha, and to be honest, why would we?
Personally, I just assumed that this bout would play out like one of those usual Mundine/Nasser-style transactions where a sparkling local household name raises a thimble's worth of sweat in beating the freckles off a slack-jawed youngster/famished Boxcar Willie. Judging by Williams' admission of concern, so did he.
However, musings of a handful of rounds filled with bruise-free twinkle-toeing were put on-hold by Williams and his connections when the vision of a butcher-like Botha annihilating vinyl and disturbing building foundations filtered out to the public forum and in to their camp this week.
The penny has dropped to Williams and uneducated types like myself that Botha is a downright maniac able to land something meaningful that could bruise a brother's bone marrow for the long term.
If that doesn't have you reaching for a night-light then also consider that his friends, fans and former victims refer to him as 'The White Buffalo', which the last time I checked was a creature best known for its habit of unpredictably impaling or stampeding over humans.
Why has his rap sheet been kept so shielded up until now? Why wasn't it repeatedly thrust forth in the local periodicals that this powder keg has survived quality time inside the ring with other skull-crushers like Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis, Evander Holyfield and Vladimir Klitschko?
Botha's loose cannon qualities, combined with the usual pre-match bubbling about weight lost and motivation gained, makes him a sparked-up old bloke with cannonball fists, nothing to lose and a small window of opportunity to panel-beat one of world sport's prettiest faces.
Before all you learned boxing types start going off at this unschooled fool, I acknowledge that Botha's recent record is fairly forgettable and that he's 20-odd years away from claiming a pension. He's not going to school the Kiwi in the fine arts of pugilism before drugging him with a precision jab at the end of a test of gladiatorial fitness.
It just seems that Williams' teeny-weeny display of concern exposes a late arriving awakening that his opponent is wilder and woollier than expected, and the potential to wear that one precise punch that causes serious issues is closer than ever before.
As for my angst?
Of course, there's the humanitarian concern. I always pray for my fellow man that he avoids such trauma as the infliction of gory facial abrasions that have the potential to affect endorsement deals and one's chances with the ladies.
Plus there's the possible harm to the continuation of his evolution as a global sporting megastar, which is I suppose is slightly interesting.
But mainly, the major contributor to my unsettled sleeping patterns before today's bout is the fact that I am from the Rooster family, a place that has moved heaven, earth and cap space to accommodate the former All Black for a fleeting 8-month period where one-handed match-winning and unbroken spells of fitness is not wished for, but expected.
So please Sonny Bill, don't forget you are due at training next week for the first time.
We would appreciate you in one piece.
View all contributions
Which reader's plan would you support?Related story: (See story)