Cooper set for boxing debut

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CONTROVERSIAL Australia fly-half Quade Cooper will put his rugby career on hold to make his professional boxing debut in February.

Cooper said he had rejected a contract with the Australian Rugby Union after being offered an incentive-based deal usually awarded to fringe squad members. The 24-year-old will instead make his boxing debut on the undercard when close friend Sonny Bill Williams faces South African Francois Botha in Brisbane on 8 February. “It (boxing) has been a big interest for me after following Sonny and Choc (Anthony Mundine) and when I caught a live fight the first time and saw how they trained,” said Cooper. Recuperating from a knee injury, Cooper said he will continue to train with the Queensland Reds, with whom he is currently contracted till the end of the year. “Boxing has been used as a bit of a release, a bit of a way to work on my cardio,” Cooper said. “As it stands now, I’m still contracted until the end of December. I don’t really have an option to continue with rugby at the moment, so for now I’m just focusing on getting my body right. I’m still training with the Reds, I’m still contracted with them. I’m just putting my full focus on getting my body right for the upcoming boxing fight.”

The outspoken New Zealand-born player was recently fined for describing the Wallabies camp as a “toxic environment”. The fine completed a miserable 12 months for Cooper, which started when he limped out of the World Cup with a damaged knee.