Super Rugby
Sonny Bill to be the next Ali?
ESPNscrum Staff
January 30, 2011
All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams and his trainer Anthony Mundine pose following his latest boxing bout, Gold Coast Convention and Exhibition Centre, Gold Coast, Australia, January 29, 2011
Sonny Bill Williams and Anthony Mundine celebrate the All Blacks star's latest success in the boxing ring © Getty Images

All Blacks centre Sonny Bill Williams has been tipped to become a boxing star to rival the legendary Muhammad Ali.

The extraordinary claim has been made by Australian boxing great Tony Mundine in the wake of Williams' latest ring success - a unanimous points decision against Scott Lewis at the Gold Coast Convention Centre on Saturday night.

Mundine, the father of Williams' trainer - the former rugby league and boxing star Anthony Mundine, believes the 25-year-old Williams should seriously consider making boxing his primary career. "I said to [Williams] in 12 months time he could be the second Ali. He could be anything," Mundine told AAP. "I saw him about 12 months ago, I really thought he moved like Ali. He needs more fights ... If he keeps on boxing seriously, he will be the second Ali."

Williams dominated his six round bout with the 36-year-old Lewis, a forklift truck driver from Sydney, to record his third pro fight win following victories over Garry Gurr and Ryan Hogan. He is set to return to the Crusaders' pre-season camp on Monday where the stress-related leg injury he picked up on the All Blacks' end of year tour will be assessed by medical staff.

His immediate goal will be to cement his All Blacks place ahead of this year's Rugby World Cup but Mundine Snr believes Williams' quest to become a legend in three sports - following impressive stints in rugby league and union - is well within his grasp.

"He's got a big question mark - rugby league, rugby union or boxing," added Mundine Snr who held the Australian middleweight, light heavyweight, cruiserweight and heavyweight titles and Commonwealth middleweight and light heavyweight titles during his ring career. "In rugby league and union there's a lot of injuries, he can damage himself [in the] knees, neck, elbows and ankles. If he took on boxing after the World Cup [he could be anything]."

Reflecting on his latest ring outing, Williams said, "A lot of people didn't want to give this fight credibility but I wanted to respect the sport. I think I really showed (against Lewis) that I respect the sport and it was a good fight, hopefully, gave the crowd what they wanted.

''I can have another fight if I wish during the season - it is in my contract - but if I feel that it is going to jeopardise my playing ability in any way I won't do it because rugby is first right now,'' Williams said. ''But if it doesn't, if it feels like it would give me that kick which I feel right now - I feel mentally strong and I could play 80 minutes easy of footy after that - then I will do it for sure.

''It is back to rugby now. I'll have to train hard and change focus but that is all right. I don't like to be idle, I just like to work hard and I can't wait to get stuck into it.''

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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