Editorial: Good clean fight a joke

Last updated 05:00 11/02/2013

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OPINION: Boxing has often been labelled the sport of kings.

Although it would seem the court jester had a fair hand in the events surrounding the fight between Sonny Bill Williams and South Africa's Francois Botha in Brisbane on Friday night.

Williams won the fight in a unanimous points decision over the former world heavyweight champion, but the punches continued outside the ring.

Botha came out swinging, saying he was prepared for a 12-round fight and was pacing himself, so was astonished to learn at the beginning of the 10th round that it would be the final round. To add to his grievance, Botha said that final round wasn't the full three minutes, it was 15 seconds short. He said he planned to either protest against the result, or seek a rematch.

Round one to Botha.

But Williams wasn't down for long, bouncing out of his corner to claim that he had only prepared for 10 rounds - the same as his last bout a year ago for the New Zealand heavyweight title - and said Botha had landed a "dirty blow" after the referee had stopped the fight to separate the pair.

Williams' trainer criticised the referee for allowing Botha to repeatedly land late shots at times when the fight was stopped.

Sportsbet has offered to refund bets on Botha, at least two of the ringside judges said they had thought the fight was scheduled for 12 rounds, and Botha's promoter has admitted he discovered shortly before the fight that it would be for only 10 rounds, but did not tell Botha.

It would seem the crowd at the match were expecting a 12-round bout, and were unimpressed it was cut short by two rounds, and equally unimpressed at the judge's decision to award the match to Williams on points, giving him, technically, the biggest scalp in his boxing career.

You'd have to ask how - if everyone's telling the truth - two boxers could turn up to such a high-profile fight with completely different ideas about how long they're going to be fighting for. It seems highly unlikely.

Australian sport is already reeling from a report by the Australian Crime Commission alleging widespread doping and corruption. Botha has suggested Friday night's events constituted match fixing. Fine talk from someone who failed a drug test on the eve of the fight.

As more detail emerges about the level of corruption across sporting codes, of doping, it seems one thing's now becoming clear.

We can no longer take for a granted that we'll get a good clean fight - in the boxing ring, on the sports field, or in any other sporting arena.

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- The Timaru Herald

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