By Liam Napier
In and out of the ring, when you're Sonny Bill-Williams, distractions are part of the equation.
Juggling three different sporting ambitions is no easy feat.
From the Japanese rugby fields to the ring and, soon, back to the NRL with the Sydney Roosters. Attention flows, wherever he goes.
Keeping his 12-round showdown with South African heavyweight Francios Botha in the forefront of his mind has been a challenge.
It's a smart move, though, given Botha, a veteran of 60 pro fights, represents a significant step up in class.
"If I start thinking about rugby league too often I'll probably get knocked out," Williams said today after a 30-minute ring session at Auckland's boxing alley gym.
"His experience speaks for itself. He's been in there with five world champions. It's going to be a tough fight. But for me in a boxing sense I need to take fights like this to move up. It's definitely going to put my name out there internationally because it's for the WBA belt."
After five professional fights, Williams' most important lesson has been to live in the now. Staying focused is crucial to the cause.
During his time at the Crusaders, the 27-year-old attempted to manage his intensive boxing regime to prepare for fights in addition to playing commitments.
It was too much. These days he's adopted a more simplistic approach.
There's more interest in Williams' return to league than in his fleeting pugilistic career, which takes another step towards credibility on February 8 in Brisbane against the 44-year-old Botha, dubbed the "white buffalo".
But Williams showed skills to brush of inquiries about league and union and remain dedicated to his next title quest.
"It's still a work in progress, but I find when I'm at my best that's what I'm doing, not worrying about what's going to happen in the future," he said. "Even though from the outside it seems like a crazy schedule, when you worry about day to day it all seems to fall in place.
"When you're juggling three different sports in a yearly calendar you have to be [focused], otherwise it's too easy to switch off. That's the hardest and best thing I've overcome in the last couple of years, being able to switch off one thing on to another."
Williams isn't the only polarising figure pulling on the gloves next month.
Troublesome Wallabies playmaker Quade Cooper makes his debut on the undercard against seasoned fighter Barry Dunnett.
"Apparently he's been training like he's going for a world title," Williams said of good friend Cooper. "I think it was a good option when he didn't know what was going on. Now he knows where he's going it will get him fit and mentally fresh."
Tags: Francois Botha , Sonny Bill Williams