Sonny Bill's camp snubs $1m for Parker fight
DUNCAN JOHNSTONE AND AARON LAWTON
Sonny Bill Williams is being offered more than $1m to put his New Zealand heavyweight boxing belt on the line.
As the multi-talented athlete gets set to end his latest NRL stint by starring in the Sydney Roosters' Grand Final clash with the Manly Sea Eagles tonight, his sporting future has taken a new twist, with the emergence of a tempting offer to get serious inside the boxing ring.
New Zealand promoter Duco Events has formally approached Williams manager, Khoder Nasser, with the mega-offer to fight the winner of Thursday night's clash between Joseph Parker and Afa Tatupu.
Parker, the rising star of the heavyweight scene, is expected to take Tatupu's New Zealand Boxing Federation belt, and then wants a unification fight with Williams, who won the NZ Professional Boxing Association belt last year, but hasn't defended it.
Duco is prepared to make the fight a winner take all affair - putting up A$1m.
It is also prepared to split the purse if Williams doesn't back himself to beat Parker, but still wants a huge pay-day.
Duco has been trying to flush out Williams ever since it signed Parker to its stable.
"Sonny Bill Williams can make more money in one fight than he can for maybe a whole year in either rugby code. All he has to do is stand up to Joseph Parker, or indeed Afa Tatupu, and win," Duco's Dean Lonergan said.
"If Khoder Nasser and Sonny Bill Williams haven't got the balls or confidence to stand up to a winner takes all purse, we'd be happy to sit down and negotiate a split, and which way it should go.
"But I'd say they will run like little girls, because they know they're going to get belted."
Nasser didn't appear to have much interest in the deal when approached on Saturday, slamming Duco and accusing it of trying to exploit Williams.
"They are just doing what amateurs do. They want to make money for themselves and use a sportsman to do that," Nasser said of Duco.
"What they do is abuse sportsmen. They oppress sportsmen - and make money under the guise that they are doing well for sportsmen, especially sportsmen in the toughest sport in the world, boxing.
"All you've got is a bunch of exploiters. Why don't they say, for example, is how much money the sportsmen made in their last fight, and how much they made. Let them tell me the last time a sportsman made more than they did.
"The sad thing about boxing is the lions are getting skinned by the rats. Duco is about the exploitation of sportsmen in the gladiator sports. They are a classic example of the rats exploiting the lion.
Duco is keen to get the fight done before February, when Williams will resume his Super Rugby career with the Chiefs.
"I'm not into the exploitation of sportsmen and making money for the exploiters. It's about time that the lions make the money and not the rats. I'm into the progression and the forward movement of a sportsman."
It appears the Rugby League World Cup won't be a stumbling block, with Williams expected to tell the Kiwis' selectors tonight that he won't be available.
Williams is thought to be considering a fight against Australian veteran Bob Mirovic, a 47-year-old who hasn't fought for almost three years.
"There's no doubt about Sonny Bill's drawing power," Lonergan said. "He's a star on both sides of the Tasman in the two most popular codes.
"He's a supreme athlete when it comes to rugby union and rugby league.
"However, he lacks credibility as a boxer. I don't care what anyone says, he can't fight."
Lonergan said the contrasting wins by Parker (a second round KO) and Williams (a controversial points decision) over veteran South African Francois Botha reflected their abilities.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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