Sonny Bill Williams Getting Negative Heat Over Tillman Win

Sonny Bill Williams has won the New Zealand heavyweight title but no admiration for his boxing skills.

The 26-year-old All Black three-quarter this week beat an overweight American who showed little skill or no interest in fighting.

He knocked out Clarence Tillman in the first round in Hamilton on Wednesday but boxing commentator and historian Bob Jones is one of those who was disparaging of the fight.

Jones called Tillman a "joke opponent" and the bout a “farce”.

"Tillman's record is appalling. Five of his fights were against blokes who had never fought before and even then he lost one of them," Jones told Fairfax Media.

"Have a look at all the bouts he's had in New Zealand and Australia. His name has never once appeared in the press. He's a joke opponent and they've built him up, and suddenly he's fighting in the limelight.

"He's hopeless. To see all this over the front page is silly. The whole thing was a joke from the start. This sort of farce degrades boxing."

The 34-year-old Tillman, an American living in New Zealand, was a late replacement for Richard Tutaki, who was scratched after being arrested on a number of charges.

Williams and Tillman had been involved in a shoving match at the weigh-in, though local media questioned whether the altercation had been staged to boost pay-per-view sales.

Tillman shoved Williams then caught him with a glancing right hook before he was dragged away by Australian professional boxer and former rugby league player Anthony Mundine, a friend and stablemate of Williams under manager Khoder Nasser.

The real fight lasted less than three minutes, with the grossly overweight Tillman showing little enthusiasm or technical skill before referee Lance Revill stopped the bout.


Williams, who has a clause in his New Zealand Rugby Union contract to box (he fought shortly before the World Cup tournament last year) is one of the world's highest profile rugby players.

There has been immense media interest in his fights, despite the calibre of opposition.

Media academic and former journalist Alan Samson said the attention given to the All Black’s boxing was being fed by the public's obsession with the player.

“He is the most carefully constructed media brand I have ever seen," said Samson, a Massey University journalism lecturer.

"Everything is carefully thought through, seemingly at the behest of his advisers.

"Journalistically I can understand why we are obsessed with Sonny Bill, why he achieves such attention, because the public is obsessed with him.

"Some of the coverage of his fights has been absurd. If we are going to be covering them, it should be covered honestly; warts and all. He has to be written about in the context of real news."

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