I was offered cash to throw the fight’

2013-02-14 00:00

SOUTH African heavyweight boxer Francois “White Buffalo” Botha says he was asked to throw his fight with former All Blacks rugby player Sonny Bill Williams in Brisbane last week for A$150 000 (R1,37 million).

Botha lost the fight on points, but the bout remains surrounded by controversy.

Billed as a WBA International title fight over 12 rounds, it was suddenly shortened to 10 rounds, with Williams under pressure and those who saw the fight convinced the New Zealander would not have lasted another two rounds.

Questions are being asked as to whether the fight was sanctioned by the WBA — there was no WBA official at the fight — and accusations that Botha had illegal substances in his blood have also surfaced.

Botha claims that on the day before the fight, he was called and picked up at his hotel and taken to a park, where his cellphone was taken from him and he met Williams’s manager, Khoder Nasser.

“He offered me money to lose the fight, to be disqualified. I refused.”

But Nasser has challenged the allegations, saying that Botha had “sour grapes”.

“He’s in a daze. First he says he doesn’t know about the fight being 10 rounds, then he says later that it was 10 rounds. Then he goes on about the testing and saying the doctor was a family member of mine. The stories keep coming,” said Nasser.

“What will he try next? The reality is he was whipped by a guy who has just started his career, has only five fights, and only after the fight does he come with these allegations. Why did he not deal with them then?”

On the allegations of using banned substances, Botha recalls how he was tested the day before the fight.

“At the weigh-in on Thursday, Khoder Nasser banned any photographs being taken and straight after I had been weighed, I was taken for blood and urine tests. I have since discovered the doctor was known to Nasser and the tests were not done correctly. Only one sample of urine and blood was taken instead of the usual two and the vials were not sealed properly, which meant anyone could have tampered with them.”

The South African boxing community has since lent its support to Botha.

Thinus Strydom, Botha’s South African promoter, claimed he was also “shocked” that the fight was shortened, and in more than 30 years of involvement in boxing, he “had never seen this happen”.

Said Strydom: “I was taken by surprise and as far as I am concerned, the fight should be declared null and void, taken off the boxing records.”

Boxing referee Stan Christodoulou, the WBA regional representative in South Africa, met Botha in Durban to “get the facts”.

Said Christodoulou: “I am here to get the facts, from start to finish and present them to the WBA. From there, it is up to the organisation to take it forward and decide how to deal with the matter and whether to call the fight null and void,” he said.

“The bottom line is to tell the truth on the matter and get to the bottom of it. The fact that a WBA official was not present and allegations of the so-called championship belt not being the proper one tells me something was definitely not right and something was going on. Two rounds cannot just disappear, and even bookmakers were having to suddenly reimburse people who had bet on the last two rounds. That tells you something.”

Botha said he was paid a fee for the fight before departing to Australia.

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