Boxing – SBW & Hall Hard To Split As Footy Enforcers Eye KO

It’s been dubbed ‘Turf War’ – and the clash between retired oval-ball powerhouses Sonny Bill Williams and Barry Hall shapes as an explosive ring feast.

For better or worse, bouts between former footy stars has gained a massive foothold on the Australian boxing landscape. But Wednesday night’s showdown promises to be one of the more fascinating, evenly-matched and high-quality of the oft-maligned genre.

Barry Hall set the scene fireworks at Sydney Convention Centre with an aggressive headbutt on Sonny Bill Williams at Tuesday’s weigh-in.

Cross-code marvel Williams returned from a six-year ring absence with a six-round unanimous decision over unheralded Waikato Falefehi last June, extending his record to 8-0 (3 by KO/TKO).

The questionable quality of SBW’s opponents has come under regular scrutiny during his stop-star boxing career. South African veteran Francois Botha, who he scored a controversial decision win over in 2013, was an exception. A win here as the $1.65 favourite is an essential stepping stone towards a long-anticipated superbout against former NRL foe Paul Gallen.

Hall boasts just one professional bout, but he gained plenty of admirers in slugging out a six-round draw against the more experienced Gallen in 2019.

The ex-AFL hardman opened as a $2.65 underdog but was backed heavily into near evens at $1.95. With the opening bell just hours away, Hall has eased out again to $2.35 for a victory over Williams.

There’s little between the imposing pair in height, reach and weight – but the 45-year-old Hall is nine years Williams’ senior. SBW’s glittering league and union career only wrapped up 2020, while ‘Big Bad Barry’ hung up the boots in 2011.

Early finish on the cards? 

The combatants are unsurprisingly both talking up a knockout finish to the 8 x 3-minute round bout.

SBW by points or decision is the narrow Method of Victory favourite ($3.10) ahead of a Williams KO/TKO ($3.25). If Hall takes the spoils, it’s more likely to come by KO/TKO ($3.70).

If Hall reproduces the fierce grit that underpinned his stalemate with Gallen, he’ll be hard to beat. But Williams’ superior ring experience extra coat of boxing polish is hard to resist in what is sure to be one of the most entertaining fights of 2022.

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