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Sonny Bill Williams Takes Hit, Loses Both of His Titles

By Liam Napier

Sonny Bill Williams collected two prestigious rugby league awards this year but his boxing titles are now non-existent.

Williams won the international player of the year gong with the Kiwis and, in their march to NRL premiership glory, was recognised as the Sydney Roosters' most influential figure with the Jack Gibson medal.

But after failing to defend his belt within six months, the World Boxing Association (WBA) confirmed to Sunday News this week Williams had been stripped of the title he won in controversial circumstances over South African veteran Francois Botha in February.

"He's no longer the WBA international champion," a WBA spokesperson said from headquarters in Panama. "He's been stripped."

Sunday News also understands Williams is set to lose his New Zealand Professional Boxing Association (NZPBA) heavyweight title today.

Since receiving a formal, written challenge from rising Kiwi heavyweight Joseph Parker, the NZPBA have attempted to contact Williams' manager, Khoder Nasser, on several occasions.

A letter was delivered in July and the latest email was sent two months ago, on October 14.

The four-person NZPBA committee - Lance Revill, John Gillespie, Carrick Belton and Pat Leonard - met this weekend and are expected to issue a formal statement today confirming the title will be declared vacant.

"As per-usual, I've had no reply," Leonard said. "The only reason why we didn't call on him to defend it before was because no-one had challenged him."

Williams claimed the NZPBA title with a first round knockout of Clarence Tillman in February last year, but has made no effort to defend it since.

National secretary Leonard and Revill are known to be furious at the lack of courtesy shown by Nasser, who could not be reached for comment.

The NZPBA has been more than generous by allowing Williams almost two years to schedule a defence. Their leniency was originally due to speculation Williams would return to New Zealand and the champion Chiefs next year.

"We wanted it settled in the ring but we've had to take it outside," Leonard said. "He realizes he's not championship material."

The 28-year-old dual international will instead return to the Roosters next year, before transferring back to the Chiefs in 2015. He has said he will not get back in the ring to put his 6-0 record on the line for up to three years.

Stripping Williams will open the NZPBA title up to all New Zealand heavyweights. Elimination fights will then be held to ensure there are no gripes.

The No. 1 contender could then challenge Parker, holder of the New Zealand National Boxing Federation title, in what would be a long-awaited unification fight.

User Comments and Feedback (Register For Free To Comment) Comment by Lou Cipher on 12-16-2013

Doesnt the WBC have an "international" "Championship" ?? Based on the way they handle Vitali, for a fee this guy could hold on to that title for a decade without fighting anyone much less a top contender.

Comment by yoz on 12-16-2013

[QUOTE=valero;14039510]The 10th rd. of Sonny's fight against White Buffalo was one of the most cowardly moments I've seen in boxing. He got a gift decision against a fat old man.[/QUOTE] Yes. The fightly suddenly changed from a 12-rounder to a…

Comment by Thurman on 12-16-2013

The 10th rd. of Sonny's fight against White Buffalo was one of the most cowardly moments I've seen in boxing. He got a gift decision against a fat old man.

Comment by joe strong on 12-16-2013

I think chisora won the vacant WBA international title against pala a few weeks ago. I'm sure he knew he was stripped awhile back. At least you would think he knew but then again it's the WBA & he won…

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