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Boxing official slams SBW fight
17:36 AEST Sat Feb 9 2013

WBA Oceania representative Brad Vocale has lashed out at the organisers of Sonny Bill Williams' so-called title fight, saying they have "defrauded" the Australian public.

The legitimacy of what was purported to be a WBA international heavyweight title fight between the former All Black star and South African veteran Francois Botha was thrown into extreme doubt on Friday night.

Williams defeated Botha in a unanimous points decision in Brisbane, but the fight ended after 10 rounds, instead of 12 as per WBA rules and as had been advertised.

Bookmakers refunded bets on Williams's controversial win and 44-year-old Botha has challenged the rugby star to a rematch.

"In my view, they defrauded the fight-paying public of Australia," Vocale told Fox Sports on Saturday.

"This fight was advertised as a WBA international fight, I had my doubts as to whether it actually was really sanctioned by the WBA.

"Francois Botha has got just right to feel aggrieved, simply because he would have signed a contract stating a 12-round fight.

"Sadly boxing has been given a black eye again."

Vocale said the idea of Williams, a boxing novice with just five fights under his belt, battling Botha, a fighter well past his best, made a mockery of the WBA title.

"Sonny Bill is not even rated in the Australian ratings. He's never fought 10 rounds. That doesn't qualify him to fight for a WBA title," he said.

"Botha, in his last six professional fights has won one.

"But all of a sudden they're fighting for a vacant title.

"The WBA international championship is a prestigious and quality title. The guys who fight for the title are rated.

"In this instance there was no WBA appointed referee, judge or supervisor.

"So I have my doubts as to whether the fight was actually ever approved by the WBA because the criteria was never met in the first place.

"Due process clearly wasn't done here by the self-appointed regulatory branch here in Queensland because they never bothered to check with the WBA to say `has this bout been approved?'"

Williams, who was on the receiving end of some heavy blows from Botha in the final round, tweeted on Saturday that both camps knew it was a 10-round affair.

"First morning after the fight it's sinking in what a great night it was. We both knew it was a 10 rounder b4 the fight! WBAinterntionalbelt!!," Williams said on Twitter.

Australian National Boxing Federation (ANBF) committee member John Hogg said a last-minute decision to shelve the final two rounds was "unusual" but that it had been ticked off by officials after both camps agreed shortly before the fight started.

"Any suggestion that there was any decision made during the fight is just nonsense," Hogg told Fox Sports on Saturday.

"Any claim that it was cut back to 10 during the fight to save Sonny Bill is just nonsense, we wouldn't be party to that.

"Both parties told us it was cut back to 10 rounds, we had no time to try and check with the WBA to see if they were aware of what was happening."

It's understood Botha's management bizarrely failed to tell the 44-year-old it had been cut to 10 rounds.

The ringside judges gave the Kiwi the victory 97-91, 98-94, 97-91 which was greeted by considerable booing from the crowd.

Williams will now lace up his rugby league boots for an NRL campaign with the Sydney Roosters.


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