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Sonny Bill Williams provides update on potential Jake Paul fight

By Sam Smith
(Photos / Getty Images)

Former All Blacks midfielder Sonny Bill Williams has provided an update about a potential fight with YouTube star turned professional boxer Jake Paul.

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Williams was last week named Paul’s “hit list” of potential opponents, which included boxing legends Floyd Mayweather and Oscar de la Hoya, former UFC champions Michael Bisping and Anderson Silva, and British boxer Tommy Fury.

The two-time World Cup-winning cross-code great, who has a professional boxing record of 9-0 after beating former AFL star Barry Hall with a first round knockout in Sydney last month, welcomed Paul’s callout in a tweet posted last Saturday.

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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific | Aotearoa Rugby Pod
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What the All Blacks squad could look like halfway through Super Rugby Pacific | Aotearoa Rugby Pod

Since then, Williams has revealed that Paul’s management have reached out to his about a possible fight to be held in August.

“I’m maybe looking at August, getting back in the ring,” Williams told Nine and Stan Sport from Super Rugby Pacific’s Super Round in Melbourne on Saturday.

“Jake Paul, his people have reached out to mine and they’re talking so who knows. The main thing is I’m very excited and very grateful to be back in the ring, on Stan, boxing.”

Williams’ fresh comments come days after he told the Sydney Morning Herald of his interest in fighting Paul, who turned to boxing after gaining tens of millions of social media followers following his days on YouTube and as a Disney Channel actor.

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“If he does decide to take that fight, he would have underestimated me quite a bit by watching old footage, old fights,” Williams – the former 58-test All Black, two-time NRL champion and 2016 Rio Olympian – said.

I feel in the last six months I’ve improved tenfold, so it’s the confidence I have in my ability.

“It would probably be a catchweight fight, I’d probably have to drop under 100kg. I know he sits at around 95-96kg, so that could work.

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“He’s a powerful athlete and I’m exactly the same, except a bigger version, a taller version, a longer-limbed version. I’m just as good on my feet, if not better than he is.

“That’s how I think it will play out, I could fight him in many ways. At the same time there are a lot of other options out there for us too, it’s just deciphering what’s best for us.”

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Conversely, Williams could be in line to fight former NRL star Paul Gallen, another ex-rugby league player who has made a name for himself as a professional boxer in his post-playing career.

Since his professional debut eight years ago, Gallen has accrued a record of 12 wins, one loss and one draw, with his sole stalemate coming against Hall in 2019.

The 40-year-old has picked up some eye-catching victories over the course of his boxing career, claiming scalps over big names such as ex-UFC star Mark Hunt and former WBA heavyweight champion Lucas Browne.

Gallen’s only defeat came last year when he lost to youngster Justice Huni via a 10th round TKO in an Australian heavyweight title bout, but he has since set his sights on Williams in what would be a blockbuster fight between the old NRL foes.

However, Williams told the Sydney Morning Herald that a fight against Paul, who is undefeated in his five professional fights to date, would be a lucrative one that would captivate a global audience.

“It would be massive because all of Australasia will get going, he’s got the whole American crowd, all the UK crowd would be keen for the action. It would be a world event,” Williams said.

“I understand where the game is at the moment, it’s the entertainment factor as well. It’s not so much these days how good the guy can fight, it’s how many people want to watch.

“The beauty of this fight, if it is to come to fruition, is I respect how Jake Paul has gone about things in the boxing ring. He’s put his head down and his arse up, he’s worked hard.

“You can see the improvements he’s made in the last three years, I actually rate his boxing skills and prowess in the ring. It would be a great fight if it happened, but at the same time I’ve got a lot of options out there as well.”

Standing at 1.85m and 86kg in his most recent fight, a sixth round knockout against former UFC star Tyron Woodley last December, Paul concedes significant height and weight disadvantages to Williams, who was 1.91m and 109kg in his fight against Hall.

Paul’s last win was his second against Woodley, who he beat via split decision four months earlier. The 25-year-old has also professional wins over former UFC star Ben Askren, retired NBA player Nate Robinson and YouTuber AnEsonGib.

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