Toronto Wolfpack marquee player Sonny Bill Williams now looks unlikely to take part in a boxing match against former World Champion Mike Tyson, which promoters had been hoping to stage in Australia some time after the coronavirus lockdown is lifted.
In a flurry of publicity last week, celebrity agent Max Markson, who knows Tyson, had been hoping to broker the fight with talk of a multi-million dollar deal.
And Williams said he would be prepared to break a five-year hiatus from boxing to get into the ring with Tyson.
Tyson, 53, is back in training and is reportedly keen to take exhibition fights for charity.
Williams told Nine reporter Danny Weidler, in his Sun Herald column, that he’d love to face ‘Iron Mike’.
“If it’s for a good cause, I’d love to get in the ring with Mike Tyson,” Williams said.
“It would be an honour … a career highlight to share the ring with an iconic figure of world sport.
“I grew up watching Tyson and his fights. It’s hard not to admire the power and ferocity of Tyson, like so many other sports people around the world. It would be a humbling and surreal moment in my life to stare at him and know I was facing one of the greats of the sport.”
Williams has previously carved out a secondary career in boxing, with seven wins and no defeats. His penultimate fight was against the South African Frans Botha, who lost to Tyson by KO in 1999, winning a controversial points decision in Australia.
However, Tyson has rejected the idea of fighting Williams or former Cronulla captain Paul Gallen in Australia, saying his comeback bout will be against a ‘real boxer’, and that to fight them would be ‘an insult to boxing’.
Australian boxing legend and former World Champion Jeff Fenech, himself a keen Rugby League fan, had already dismissed the idea of a fight between Tyson and Williams or Gallen.
“Let me tell you something. If he hits Sonny Bill Williams or Paul Gallen, he will be up for manslaughter,” said Fenech.
“I’m serious. If he punched Paul Gallen, he could kill him. These guys have never been punched by somebody like Mike.
“You see what he’s doing to the pads, imagine Mike hitting one of those guys with one of those uppercuts. More than likely they will be in the morgue the next day.
“Fighting Sonny Bill? Who has Sonny Bill fought? Sonny Bill won’t even fight Paul Gallen because I don’t believe he can beat him.”