By Greg Robertson
Hello and welcome to Brisbane Entertainment Centre - the setting for the eagerly anticipated WBA International Heavyweight Title Fight between Sonny Bill Williams and Francois ‘White Buffalo’ Botha.
These boxers come from very different backgrounds; SBW a relative boxing greenhorn is looking to elevate his sporting career to even loftier heights. While Botha, a journeyman of sorts will be hoping to add to his 29 career knock out’s and perhaps re-launch a fading boxing career.
We bring you live streaming written commentary, video highlights (available immediately AFTER each fight) and all the boxing action.
FIGHT CARD and Undercard to Williams V Botha, February 8
Remember to REFRESH YOUR BROWSER occasionally so you don't miss any of the action
LIVE COMMENTARY… Our apologies for slow, short commentary - we experienced technical difficulties beyond our control. All VIDEO IS UP.
FIGHT SIX, MAIN EVENT: Sonny Bill Williams Vs Francois Botha
WILLIAMS WINS BY DECISION. Video up. Williams is boo'd. It should have gone 12 rounds and Botha would have knocked him out. More will come out of this. Some, may call the end of that fight a 'sham'. Others might just say, that's boxing. Botha, well he just called it, "Bulls**t".
ROUND 10 (Eh? What happened to R11+R12 ref?): Can Williams make it? Ref calling it the last round but it's a 12 round fight. Williams fighting back and Botha hits hi harder. It is the final round!!!! Controversy!!!! Botha needs a knock out. SBW needs to hold on. SBW walks into a huge right hand... he's gone. His legs are gone. How's he standing??? He is a freak. He's been hammered. He's bent over in two, nearly. Docked a point for too much holding on. He's desperate. Botha is head hunting. Williams out... hang on Sonny hang on... He hangs on (he says with no hint of hiding the bias)!!! Victorious, probably but under siege, said the commentators. Decision, hmmmmm I'm not so sure it went the right way. In fact, it didn't. Sonny was great in the fact he managed to stay on his feet... but the winner? Sonny won a few early rounds on points but Botha was pretty strong throughout, especially late. Two rounds lost - a disgrace to the sport. What happened to the 12 round fight? Botha would have won that over 12. In that, there is no doubt.
ROUND 9: Both connect with a jab at the same time. Williams has been great on the inside. He's boxing so much better than his last five - he's evolved massively. Good right from Botha. And again. Ref takes a shot (oops) Williams with a straight right hand. And again. Williams getting hit again. And again. Blood coming from SBW's nose. Botha hits him after the break. One point deduction. SBW is badly hurt. He's hanging on... he's going to go.... no. He makes it to the bell.
ROUND 8: Botha rocks the head back of Williams. Sonny felt that one. Botha comes over the top with one but SBW ducks it well. Every time Botha searches for the big one Sonny backs away or slides sideways beautifully. Four to go.
ROUND 7: SBW whips out the left hand and doubles it up. Botha gets the mouth working and Sonny tries to load up and shut it but Botha knew what was coming. Uncharted territory now for Williams and Botha is slowly getting back into this. That's seven down. Uneventful that one as both take a wee breather.
ROUND 6: SBW looking very fresh. What an athlete. Botha has some power but Williams taking the clean shots with ease. Jab, jab, jab goes Williams. SBW with a big right. Botha settles it down like the veteran he is but he's being outjabbed 3 to 1. Their swinging now. Botha's best round so far but he's still not winning it.
ROUND 5: Jab working beautifully for SBW. Botha is charging in and changing the punches from high to low. He's working his way back into this fight ever so slowly.
ROUND 4: That one was split. It's turning into a close contest. High intensity heavyweight boxing. Both throwing a couple of good punches and SBW copping some and handling it.
ROUND 3: Williams on top. Lovely shot from Williams and Botha responds in kind with one of his own. SBW is boxing, not fighting. Good stuff, he's winning the rounds.
ROUND 2: Botha with a cut, just below the eyebrow.... still really settling into this one. Long left jab from Williams right at the end of the round was the only shot in anger.
ROUND 1: Botha with a massive swagger into the ring. Buffalo Soldier playing. It's on!!! Botha with 8kg on SBW. SBW chiseled - what a surprise.
FIGHT FIVE: Quade Cooper V Barry Dunnett, cruiserweight, eight rounds, 3 minutes
Round 1: Quade Cooper making his way into the ring for the very first time. He's in red trunks - very apt. Cooper showing a nice jab but Dunnet keeps coming at him fast. Cooper using the legs well. Cooper's been tagged! Big shot there. Nice two-shot combo from Quade. Jab winning the round... Cooper knocks him down! Dunnett hanging on. Wobbly. Tag, tag, tag. Cooper hurting - he's out!!!! Cooper's knocked him out! VIDEO UP.
FIGHT FOUR: Alex Leapai V Matt Hicks, heavyweight, eight 3 minute rounds
Round 1: Hicks from Nevada, Leapai from Samoa. We have some punching power in this ring, that's for sure. Leapai starts strong with two right hands. Hicks with some heavy stuff of his own. Huge support in Brisbane for Leapai. OMG Leapai nearly lifts Hicks off his feet!!!! MASSIVE! Hicks in trouble early. This won't last. No one can take that sort of brutality. Hicks down... slip though I think. It's over. Too muck power. The Samoan has won this and knocks him out. VIDEO UP.
SONNY BILL HAVING A CHAT... he looks calm. Confident, in control. He wants to "get out there and show what I can do". He says he is going to "let my hands do the talking". He's happy about his prep and ready for the "massive" challenge. "High risk for high reward".
FIGHT THREE: Jarrod Fletcher Vs Kiatchai Singawancha, eight 3 minute rounds
Round 6 + 7: Huge effort as Fletcher has gone through the gears well and built the fight nicely. The Thai's copping too much punishment, right, then left... bang, bang. TKO. It's over. Referee jumps in to stop the body assault. VIDEO UP.
Round 5: Left hook from Fletcher. He's picked up the intensity and dominated even more than what he was. Snap - goes the head again. Snap. Snap. Snap. KS with a left of his own but there's no power left in those arms. Brave, very brave from the Thai fighter. Fletcher hunting the kill. Fletcher takes a good left - and acknowledges it - this kid from Thailand has some kahunas.
Round 4: Fletcher's corner telling him to work the body. I've never seen a fight with so many head clashes. You beauty, Fletcher flies with a right uppercut and then follows it up with a straight that connects and snaps the head back. KS has dropped his guard. He's struggling to keep his hands up as the weight of the punches is like lead in his arms - and I mean the punches he's being hit with. Another clash of heads. KS opened up over the left eye with a big right. That's the end of the round.
Round 3: As this one grows Fletcher is getting on top. KS is a former Comm Games gold medallist. Nice work from the Aussie again as KS is slowing up and his defence is slipping. The Aussie is taking this round with ease. Nice right hand on departure from Fletcher. Follows it up with a right hand-left jab. KS hangs on.
Round 2: Fletcher searching for the right hand... ohhhh snap in the punch of Fletcher, just misses as KS sways. Nice right hook from KS as Fletcher was backing away then Fletcher gets one back - lovely right hand that right there. This Fletcher hits clean. Two rights there. He looks like a super confident fighter. Fletcher then shows he can work on the inside too. Fletcher goes head hunting and charges KS. Looks like KS had a head cut from a butt. End of the second.
Round 1:Right, a few technical issues I think I've sorted out. Here we go for the third fight and this could be a quick evening at this rate. These two just feeling each other out. Fletcher has the jab going, Singawanch boxing southpaw. Good left rocks iatchai a little. This one may go past the first round!!! One minute left and this is much more of a match than the first two... nice right KS.... then Fletcher comes back with a flurry of shots. KS fending off as much as he can. Here comes the bell.... we made it to round two!
FIGHT TWO: Daniel Baff Vs Peter Brennan, Six 3 minute rounds
Round 1: Baff already knocks Brennan down. It hit the top of the head but it was a knock down all right. Two more right hands then a left hook. This is very one sided. Baff huge to the body, I felt that one here and he's down again and has to survive 40 more seconds Down again... three knock downs and it's over. VIDEO UP
FIGHT ONE: Bilal Akkawy Vs Paul Edwards. Six, 2 minute rounds
Round 1: They've touched gloves and we're underway. Wow that didn't last long. The young Bilal was just too strong with a couple of smashes to the body and some nice stiff straight shots. VIDEO UP.
Okay fight fans we have our live pictures and the banter has begun. Sonny Bill - Quade Cooper... they are two amazing athletes, there is no denying that. But can they fight? I mean, can they REALLY fight. Cooper, well I have no idea how he will go. SBW... my jury is still out. He can, of course, but at what level? This is a tester. It's a stepping stone across the boxing water. After the end of this one he'll either have a shot at a real career or he'll slip and get up looking very wet behind the ears. It's tough... very touch, to pick.
I'm on count down... we're on countdown... crown a Kiwi day, or at least give him a belt! Williams won't have it as easy as his previous five cake-walks. Lewis... Holyfield... Tyson... Botha has fought them all - and lost, mind you. But he went some way with them in the tango of the ring. In saying that, that was - literally - last millennium. He's 44... SBW is 27. Age is a factor, no doubt. Punching power. You feel that Botha wants him and wants him early. But before all of that we have an undercard to get through so saddle up, crack a can and enjoy.
Let’s get ready to ruuuuuummmmmbllllllleeee. Shoot, will now probably have Michael Buffer on my case trying to get some money out of the company for using that. Anyways… I’m excited about this one, for sure. And don’t be lured into thinking that there is only one decent fight on the card. Quade Cooper should be interesting if he can keep his mouth shut for long enough to throw a punch and also Alex Leapai against Matt Hicks should be interesting. Leapai can box.
First bout is scheduled for 9pm NZT (commentary from then), in the meantime check out the video from the weigh-in with reaction and comment from both SBW and Botha.
Watching YouTube footage used to be Sonny Bill Williams' only training tool when he took up boxing.
And the man who kept appearing in his search results was a certain "Francois Botha".
Now the code-hopping Williams wants to kick-start his own boxing highlights reel - with Botha as his first big-name victim.
Williams, 27, became a big fan of South Africa's Botha - dubbed the "White Buffalo" - when he took the unorthodox step of preparing for his first three pro fights by surfing through YouTube for hours.
These days, ex-All Black Williams takes his boxing a lot more seriously - and he had to after agreeing to take on his hero in their WBA International heavyweight title bout in Brisbane on Friday night.
"Hopefully I earn his respect but I won't be asking for an autograph," laughed Williams after weighing in at 107kg on Thursday before Botha, 44, tipped the scales at 115.25kg.
Williams (5-0 record) stared down Botha (48-8-3) after their weigh-in - but the Sydney Roosters NRL player already had a good look at the South African on his computer.
"When I first got into the boxing game, I watched a lot of fights on YouTube and obviously when you type in 'boxing', Frans' name comes up a lot," Williams said.
"I have seen a lot of his fights and studied him a lot. I have got a gameplan but one punch could change that."
The quietly spoken Williams was in contrast to a boisterous Botha who took over their pre-fight media conference, even interrupting the weigh-in for Quade Cooper who will appear on Friday night's undercard.
"If he wins and bulks up, I am willing to fight him," Botha laughed, pointing to the Wallabies five-eighth.
Williams compared taking on the hulking Botha with tackling a 115kg Springbok prop.
"They breed them big over there and they just keep coming," he smiled.
"I will hit him with all I have got ... it will be a massive challenge.
"What's the worst that could happen - get knocked out? At least I tried.
"He's trying to play mind games but I have been involved in professional sport for 10 years so I know how all that works.
"I hopefully do all my talking in the ring."
In contrast to Williams, Cooper curiously didn't bother doing any research ahead of his professional boxing debut against car crash assessment officer Barry Dunnett, who has a Muay Thai background.
"I haven't seen any of his fights and I am not going to bother watching them," Cooper said.
"I am just going to follow the gameplan that I have."
The usually reserved Cooper (87.1kg) looked like he wanted to start the fight early in an intense face to face with Dunnett (88.6kg) after their weigh-in.
But clearly Dunnett wasn't intimidated.
"He doesn't look like an overly confident person - he couldn't even show up to this on time," Dunnett said.
"I don't go back to a $100,000 rugby contract after this so I will be going out there fighting hard."