The controversial former NRL player announced yesterday he’ll fight Sydney forklift driver Scott Lewis on January 29 in what will be his third professional bout.
And while Williams’ decision has the blessing of the New Zealand Rugby Union, a news report in his homeland says former All Blacks are concerned the 25-year-old could receive a serious injury and jeopardise his World Cup chances.
But Williams says he’s still dedicated to making New Zealand’s squad for the Rugby World Cup and the fight is merely the best way he can think of to keep in shape over the summer.
“It’s my first Super 15 season coming up and then obviously the World Cup, so I want to push myself, take myself out of my comfort zone instead of just having a holiday,” he said.
“I feel if I do this, because it’s what I’ve done over in the last couple of years, I’m only going to grow as a player on the field. The next six weeks are going to be about boxing but the long-term goal is securing a spot in that World Cup squad and playing in that World Cup.”
Williams’ bout with 36-year-old Lewis will be the first time the former Canterbury rugby league player has been the main feature in a boxing card. His previous two fights were undercard bouts for Anthony Mundine, who’ll act as Williams’ trainer for next month’s fight.
Williams’ fight will be on the same night as the Crusaders play a pre-season match against the Queensland Reds in Cairns.
But the NZRU has given all its players from the year-ending tour of the northern hemisphere until February 1 before they have to join their respective Super Rugby teams.
And NZRU general manager Neil Sorensen backed Williams’ view that the training involved in the fight would be a benefit to the Crusaders and All Blacks.
“It was agreed with Sonny Bill as part of his contract with the NZRU that he would be able to undertake professional boxing fights and we are comfortable with the timing of this event,” he said.
“We are comfortable that his boxing training regime and the bout itself won’t impact on his preparations for the season with the Crusaders and he will rejoin the Crusaders squad for pre-season training again after the fight.”