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TAB want answers over 10-round SBW fight

Published: 11:04AM Saturday February 09, 2013 Source: ONE Sport

The TAB wants an explanation as to why Sonny Bill Williams' boxing bout with Francois Botha was stopped after just 10 rounds.

Williams was awarded the fight by a unanimous points decision (97-91, 98-94, 97-91) but it was stopped two rounds short of the advertised and scheduled WBA-official 12 rounds.

The TAB has been forced to refund bets because they offered options on the 11th and 12th rounds.

Head bookmaker Mark Stafford says it is not the first time the TAB have been stung financially after Sonny Bill Williams' fights have failed to go the distance.

"All the advertising around it was 12 rounds," Stafford told Radiosport today.

"We've been caught out with this before with Sonny Bill Williams on two other occasions in his earlier fights, where from memory, they were scheduled to go eight but they didn't, they went six, and we were forced to refund then.

"So we were a lot more diligent this time and we didn't want to get caught out."

Williams, using his left jab to great effect, had been in control for much of the first eight rounds before Botha began to make a late rally in the ninth round.

The former All Black midfielder  felt the brunt of several big right-hands and with a close finish to the bout anticipated, television commentators were stunned when the referee declared the 10th round would be the last of the night.

Botha, who was docked a point in the ninth after he hit Williams after the bell, continued his resurgence in the 10th round with the 27-year-old looking increasingly unsteady on his feet.

Many in attendance at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre doubted Williams would have lasted two more rounds and felt he was fortunate to hang on for the win.

Stafford said that despite the TAB's financial loss the real concern was damage to boxing's credibility, particularly in the wake of the Australian governments report that doping and corruption was widespread among professional and amateur athletes.

"We were assured that it was 12 and its gone 10 and their timing couldn't be worse with all the news that's coming out of Australia.

"It's not really about the money figure. People are brassed off.

"People that have had a bet to pick the particular round didn't get a fair crack so all we can do is give all the money back.

"We've honoured the head to head bets and Sonny Bill Williams by decision but it paints us in a bad light and we had nothing to do with it.

"I don't know how it has happened, why it has happened. When they said '10th and final round' we all just looked at each other and said 'what is going on here?'"    

Communication breakdown

Further clouding the issue, a victorious Williams took to Twitter today, insisting both fighters were aware the bout was scheduled for 10 rounds.

"First morning after the fight its sinking in what a great night it was. We both knew it was a 10 rounder b4 the fight! WBAinterntionalbelt!!"

Despite Botha's protests that the fight did not go the full distance, it has been reported today that the 44-year-old's promoter, Thinus Strydom, agreed with Williams' camp yesterday, that the bout would only go 10 rounds, despite his charge being unaware.

Last nights controversy casts doubt over the extent of the TAB's involvement in any future Williams' bouts with Stafford, saying he will be reluctant to offer the round options.

"We'll be having a strong meeting and I'll be very vocal on Monday when we get the heads around the table.

"I'll be saying lets not do round betting on Sonny Bill Williams' fights in the future because it just leaves a bad taste in everyone's mouth."