TAB refunds round bets for Sonny Bill bout

Last updated 13:06 09/02/2013

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Angry New Zealand bookmakers have refunded bets on Sonny Bill Williams' controversial boxing win, attacking the former All Blacks star for his track record of shortened bouts.

The WBA international heavyweight fight between Williams and South African veteran Francois Botha ended in a unanimous points decision on Friday night.

However the fight, which was advertised and scheduled for 12 rounds as per WBA rules, was stopped after 10, drawing an angry reaction from Botha and jeers from the crowd.

The New Zealand TAB will refund bets placed on the 'Pick the Round' option. Bets placed on the 'Head to Head' and 'Decision', despite specifying the bout was for 12 rounds, will not be refunded.

Williams, who copped a battering in the final round, tweeted on Saturday that both camps knew it was a 10-round affair.

"First morning after the fight it's sinking in what a great night it was. We both knew it was a 10 rounder b4 the fight! WBAinterntionalbelt!!," he posted.

Botha disagreed and the 44-year-old is expected to protest the result with the WBA, saying Williams would be a "coward" if he does not accept a rematch.

There has been no official explanation for the early ending.

When pressed on Friday night after an angry Botha reluctantly retired to the dressing room, Williams' manager Khoder Nasser hinted that they cut it short after the big South African delivered several blows to the back of his client's head.

NZ TAB head bookmaker Mark Stafford said his agency was stung by the early end to the fight.

Stafford was unimpressed, saying it was the third time the TAB had been caught out by a Williams fight which didn't go the full distance.

Twice before, Williams had scheduled eight-round fights but they had stopped at six.

"So we were a lot more diligent this time and we didn't want to get caught out," Stafford told Radio Sport.

"It's not really about the money figure. People are brassed off.

"I don't know how it has happened, why it has happened. When they said '10th and final round' we all just looked at each other and said 'what is going on here?'"

The Australian newspaper reported that Australian National Boxing Federation vice-president Alan Moore, a ringside judge for the bout, had no idea it had been shortened to 10 rounds.

"When the ring announcer said over the loud speaker that it was the last round, that was the first we (judges) knew of any change," Moore was quoted as saying.

"Any international title fight is meant to be fought over 12 three-minute rounds. I have no idea what happened."

New Zealand heavyweight champion Williams, 27, pronounced himself satisfied with his sixth win from six professional fights but wouldn't be pressed on his future in boxing.

He now laces his rugby league boots for an NRL campaign with the Sydney Roosters.

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- AAP

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