Francois Botha calls Sonny Bill Williams fight ‘disgusting’

Francois Botha punches Sonny Bill Williams during their heavyweight bout. Picture: Getty
Francois Botha punches Sonny Bill Williams during their heavyweight bout. Picture: Getty
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BOXER Francois Botha will have another drug test to clear his name and said his chaotic fight with rugby player Sonny Bill Williams was “a disgusting state of affairs” and “amounts to match-fixing.”

In a statement released through his promoters, the South African said the doping test that Australian media reported he had failed – before losing a decision for the vacant WBA international heavyweight title – was administered by “a confidant” of Williams’s manager, Khoder Nasser.

Botha, who has challenged Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Klitschko for world titles in a 23-year career and also been in the ring with Mike Tyson and Evander Holyfield, has asked his manager to apply to have the Williams bout removed from his record after he was unaware that Saturday’s fight had been shortened from 12 to ten rounds.

Botha reportedly tested positive for the banned stimulant Phentermine before he lost on points to Williams, a former New Zealand rugby union international. He claimed yesterday that the person who administered the drug test was “either a relative or a friend” of Williams’ manager.

“I had a drug test a few days before the fight but I found out afterwards that it was not official when I asked for the results,” Botha said.

Their shambolic fight in Australia was also changed to ten rounds from the originally advertised and WBA standard 12 rounds, which Botha said he didn’t know until the final round. “I had Williams in all sorts of trouble in the tenth round and there was no way he was going to last one more round, let alone two, he was out on his feet,” Botha said.

“It was a disgusting state of affairs and it amounts to match-fixing. I have asked my manager to apply to have the bout expunged from my record.”

Williams said both boxers knew it would be a ten-round fight, in a Twitter post on Saturday night, and Botha’s promoter told local media he had reluctantly agreed to the change shortly before the fight. But the news seemed to have escaped an incensed Botha.

An Australian boxing official told local pay TV channel Fox Sports at the weekend that both camps had agreed to shorten the bout from 12 rounds to ten.

The fight’s status as a purported World Boxing Association heavyweight title bout was plunged into doubt, however, with confirmation that no WBA official was present.

Regional WBA representative Brad Vocale has said that he has doubts as to whether the fight was ever sanctioned by the WBA and that “sadly, boxing has been given a black eye again.”

Fans at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre booed the decision, believing Botha had won, and some bookmakers refunded bets. The chaos at the fight came days after the Australian Crime Commission released a report identifying significant use of doping in professional sport in the country, along with possible match-fixing and manipulation of betting markets.

Williams took his unbeaten record to six wins and has already said that he is more than willing to fight the South African again. “After, God willing, having a good footy [rugby league] season I’ll gladly rematch Mr Botha. Even in South Africa,” he said on his Twitter feed.