After wiping the floor with Barry Hall, Sonny Bill Williams has called out Paul Gallen in what would be one of the biggest fights in Oceanian history.
Although celebrity boxing has only taken off in the UK and America due to the exploits of Jake Paul and KSI, Oceania has a long tradition of former sports stars lacing up the gloves. The physical toughness required to play contact sports at the highest level requires significant mental fortitude.
So it comes as no surprise that some of the rugby players who’ve crossed over have developed a real knack for the ‘sweet science’.
At 25, former Australian rugby league player Anthony Mundine turned professional after just four amateur bouts. He won two world titles. The controversial figure reached global recognition and became one of the biggest names in Australian boxing history.
His legacy has inspired several other fighters to take to the ring. One of the most prominent of those names is Williams. The Kiwi began competing in 2009, but after just seven fights in six years, it didn’t appear as if he intended to take the sport seriously. But in 2021, he returned to the ring and wanted to make a statement.
He claimed a unanimous decision victory over Chauncy Welliver before arranging the biggest fight of his career.
Sonny Bill Williams claims destructive victory
On March 23, following a heated build-up, the New Zealand rugby union legend finally got the opportunity to put his hands on one of the hardest men to play Aussie Rules.
After getting headbutted by Hall at the weigh-in, Williams entered the ring with revenge on his mind. He flew out of the corner and began tagging his opponent with ease. He landed a series of shots before his rival fell to the canvas. The giant bravely rose to his feet, but his adversary was far too much.
The New Zealander pinned the Aussie to the ropes and unleashed a blistering right hand to lay the 6ft 4in athlete out cold. Williams has now officially announced himself as a massive player in the Oceanian scene, and there’s only one fight that makes sense.
Paul Gallen vs Sonny Bill Williams
In his post-fight interview, the victor only had one blockbuster event in mind.
He said: “There’s talk of [Paul] Gallen, so maybe Gallen.”
This Trans-Tasman rivalry is one that fans have desperately wanted to see play out in the ring. After his victory against John Hopoate in 2019, Gallen tried to goad his rival into finally making the mouth-watering collision.
He said: “I want one more fight at the end of the year against the big dog Sonny Bill Williams if he’ll come out.”
However, despite the hype, the bout never materialised. Gallen moved on and fought Hall himself. The contest ended as a draw, which will give Williams fans a massive confidence boost after recent events. But they can’t count their chickens yet. The Rugby League star worked tirelessly to hone his craft and returned to the ring a year later with a point to prove.
In a monumental upset, he claimed a decision victory over former UFC legend and K1 World Champion Mark Hunt. He continued his incredible fairytale run with an unbelievable first-round knockout over former WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne.
Despite a loss to rising prospect Justis Huni, Gallen returned to winning ways against Darcy Lussick on December 22. He now looks ready for the cross-codes fight.
This incredible spectacle would captivate the entire region. Of all the heavyweight rugby players in boxing, these two men are the best. There’s no denying that Gallen has mixed it with the higher quality opposition, which could pay dividends.
However, under the tutelage of Andy Lee and Tyson Fury, Williams is only getting better. It’s an incredibly intriguing match-up that would undoubtedly light up any stadium in the continent.
Featured Image Credit: Stan Sport