By Duncan Johnstone
Vastly experienced American heavyweight boxer Chauncy Welliver has promised to be in shape for his clash with Sonny Bill Williams and is "1000 percent" sure he will beat the All Blacks star.
Code-swapper Williams makes his long-awaited return to the ring against Welliver in Sydney on January 31, ending a two-year absence since his controversial points win over South African veteran Frans Botha.
Welliver is a well-respected journeyman with 70 fights to his name, including 55 wins. He shapes as a genuine test for Williams who is unbeaten after six fights.
Welliver, who has spent considerable time in New Zealand but is now based in Washington, is never a great look physically and weighed 137kg for his last fight against Alexander Ustinov in Moscow last month.
Welliver lost a unanimous decision over eight rounds to the Belarusian giant. But it's worth noting that Ustinov ended the career of David Tua last year and Welliver was a late call-up, fighting just a month after being forced out in the fifth round against rising Australian heavyweight Lucas Browne due to a suspected fractured left eye socket.
Asked if he could beat Williams, Welliver didn't hold back.
"1000 percent," the 31-year-old Welliver told fight news, believing he had the preparation time to make a difference in a fight that could be defining for him.
"I've taken a few fights this past year with little to no training. I will give team SBW that, they had the honour to give me time to get ready.
"I am going to show up in shape and I got a little bit of a treat for him.
"I've already started training, already started my dieting, I'm tearing the house down. I've been unmotivated boxing lately and have done zero training in the last few years. My weight is dropping as we speak and though I won't be close to what I was in 2012, I'll be a great weight for this late stage of my life. Beating Sonny Bill Williams gives me something to retire on."
Welliver had no doubt that he had the experience to beat Williams. His professional career came after 84 fights as an amateur. He's made good money in the sparring ring too, working with Wladimir Klitschko, Mike Tyson, Tua, Shane Cameron, Juan Carlos Gomez, and Shannon Briggs.
Welliver said there would be little surprise in the Williams approach given the athletic differences between the two fighters.
"You know me being a bigger guy, I expect [Sonny Bill Williams] to run and run," Welliver said, adding that running a boxing and fitness gym was also motivating him.
He gave credit to Williams for taking on Botha, a fight he had watched.
"I must say I was impressed with Sonny Bill Williams in that fight for being so green and fighting an old pro so good, but the key word in all that is old. Botha five years prior mops the floor with Sonny Bill Williams."
Welliver had a parting message for fight fans: "Don't let looks be deceiving. I am a fat guy but can go rounds. I'm ready for 4-6-8-10 rounds of boxing. This fight is the biggest I've had due to his fame and one thing I can assure, in training and the fight, you will get my 100 percent."