Brutal Mark Hunt knockout forces SBW to consider boxing retirement

As a keen student of boxing, Sonny Bill Williams should know the old saying about power being the last thing an ageing fighter loses, and if he didn’t then he learned it the hard way against Mark Hunt.

Combat sports legend Hunt, 48, in his final fight as a professional, entered the ring in Sydney’s Darling Harbour on Saturday night weighing 129kg and carrying a right calf injury and yet he delivered a perfect overhand right in the fourth round which completely changed the fight.

Williams, who weighed 108kg but had a far superior reach and height advantage, had looked good until then and probably edged the first three rounds via his jab and workrate, but Hunt’s signature punch which has earned him so many victories in MMA scrambled his senses and sent his mouthguard flying.

Williams picked himself up and survived the referee’s count but Hunt’s precision punching allowed him to quickly finish it – using both hands and missing only one blow from five, he forced the referee to step in.

Hunt, an Australian-based Kiwi with Samoan heritage like Williams, revealed afterwards he was weighing up to 160kg and “sitting on the couch” when Williams’ long-time manager Khoder Nasser rang him about a fight. He confirmed it would be his last.

The referee waves the Sonny Bill Williams v Mark Hunt fight off after Williams is put down a second time by the 'Super Samoan'.

“I’m smiling because it’s the last time I’m going to walk out to an octagon or ring or whatever,” he said.

“I thought it was 30 years of combat but it was actually 31.

“It’s been a long, long journey and I’m tired. I don’t like training to start with.”

It was Williams’ first loss as a professional – he now has a 9-1 record – but the former All Black, who received dispensation from New Zealand Rugby to continue boxing during his rugby career which included two World Cup victories, is now considering retirement himself.

“At this stage, I’m not even sure if I’ll fight again,” he said.

“That could be it for me. We’ll see how the next couple of weeks unfold.

“I’ve trained hard for this fight. I just feel sorry for my wife who had to put up with all the kids for the last couple of weeks.

“I’m just keen to get home and get back into the swing of things and start going back to the mosque in the morning, spending my day off like that.

“Just a little bit disappointed.”

The 37-year-old added: “Being able to share the ring with a legend like Mark, it was special.”

Special, but also perhaps a little ambitious. Hunt went into the fight after a disappointing defeat to former NRL star Paul Gallen but looked far sharper and more motivated against Williams.

He was probably underestimated by Williams’ camp and while Gallen and Williams have been on an apparent collision course for years, that fight is probably further away than it ever was.

Williams, who has excellent boxing fundamentals, has always appeared to be far too good for part-time fighters but nowhere near the elite level.

That lesson appears to have finally hit home, along with Hunt's notorious right hand.


More Stories