Sonny Bill Williams survived six-year boxing scare, calls out Barry Hall

Sonny Bill Williams has won his return to the boxing ring by the slimmest of margins as the former dual code football superstar sets up a mouth-watering prospect.

Williams appeared to try to go under the radar when the news spread on Friday that he was to fight 2-14 fighter Waikato Falefehi in Townsville on Saturday.

Williams was hoping for a secret return to the squared circle and ran from cameras as the news got out.

It meant that the questions would be asked in the ring with Williams claiming a 57-56 unanimous points victory to take his career record to 8-0 with three knockouts.

While he was bound to be rusty six years after his last bout against American Chauncy Welliver in January 2015, Williams was almost stunned after being knocked down with an eight count in the second round of the fight.

Williams appeared in exceptional shape for the fight but will need some more time in the ring before going for some bigger fish.

But it didn’t stop him from calling out Barry Hall — after a couple more fights of course.

“I hope so, hopefully I can get a fight or two in before then and sharpen up a bit more,” he said according to the Townsville Bulletin.

“I am just like many people here, I am an avid boxing fan and I enjoy doing it. Not like footy I can cater it around my family and school drop off.

“It felt good (coming back), until I got a couple of those bombs. That is the sport of boxing, you don’t play boxing that is for sure. I am just doing my due diligence to respect the sport.

“It was pretty hard, but after five years out I would expect nothing different. I hope everyone enjoyed that, I know where I am as a boxer, but I am just trying to learn as much as I can.”

Hall has just one fight in his career, a draw with Gallen, before revealing last month that he was getting back in the ring.

“I signed an agreement,” Hall told the You Cannot Be Serious podcast.

“Two fights in August and October. I can’t say at this stage (against who) because they want to launch it and those sort of things.

“It’s going to be quite a big fight. I’ll have a couple more fights and that will do. I’ll sail off into the sunset.”

Williams retired from rugby league after Covid ruined his $10m deal with the Toronto Wolfpack, and took up a role commentating on Nine.

Former league legend turned boxer Paul Gallen said at the time that he believed that Williams would turn to boxing.

“What’s that worth to a club these days? $500,000? That’s decent money for the average Joe but this is Sonny Bill,” Gallen said. “He’s made a whole lot of money his whole careers: is he going to play for $500,000?”

Gallen said SBW could have “three or four fights against bums and earn himself $500,000 to $750,000 a fight”.

Gallen said “he’d probably get a couple of mill if he wanted to fight me”.

Fresh of his reported $1.5m payday against Justis Huni where Gallen showed he could withstand plenty of punishment before being waved off in the tenth round, Gallen-Williams would be a major event.

In March, Williams and Gallen jawed at each other on Channel 9 in the commentary booth.

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll fight Paul,” Williams said during broadcast for Channel 9.

“But I’ve got to do my due diligence like he had in the past few years. You know what I mean? That means sizing him up.”

Gallen replied: “He sized me up already tonight. He goes, ‘You’re a bit shorter than before.’

“I’ve got great respect for what Sonny has done in sport. But as I said, it remains to be seen whether this fight will happen.

“Maybe one day me and Sonny can happen. I’ve said it over and over for many years now, let’s do it. I still have my doubts it will ever happen though, big boy.”

Maybe we’re one step closer.

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