Australian boxing legend Jeff Fenech has urged Sonny Bill Williams to forget about trying to outbox Barry Hall, and focus on utilising his size and strength when they take to the ring on Wednesday week.
The 36-year-old Williams is undefeated as a professional, boasting an 8-0 record, but has had just one fight since 2015. That fight was against Waikato Falefehi in June last year, with the former All Black winning via unanimous decision.
Williams left Sydney for the United Kingdom in January to take up a training camp invitation from heavyweight world champion Tyson Fury and Kiwi boxing star Joseph Parker.
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Yet, Fenech has warned the former NRL and All Blacks star against trying to be too technical against Hall on March 23, saying the former New Zealand heavyweight champion should keep things simple.
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Fenech believes stepping into the ring at Williams’ age is not ideal, especially with a lack of professional rounds in the past six years, although he expects Williams’ penchant for preparation to give him the best possible chance, if he opts for power instead of trying to box.
“When I see him trying to box I think it’s a waste of time, he’d be better off being able to stand there and hold his ground, make somebody miss and then counter-punch,” Fenech told Wide World of Sports.
Turf War: Sonny Bill Williams vs Barry Hall – Live & Exclusive on Stan Event, March 23. Purchase the event now at stan.com.au/event
“Sonny is an amazing athlete and when he does something he gives it 110 per cent. For a guy that size his jab should just a be a rangefinder.
“He’s so big and strong I’d be teaching him, throw the right-hand rip to the body then hook, rather than working on a jab.”
Fenech said adopting more of technical game plan could have Williams thinking too much rather than acting on instinct, which could lead to a longer fight, something Fenech says Williams does not want.
“You don’t want to be there for long and against someone like Barry Hall you want to get in and out as quick as you can.
“He’s a big strong man, I’d be relying more on his power than his boxing skills, it’s a hard sport to learn.
“When I watched him fight years ago he had some basic skills but I’d much rather see him focus on using his strength.
“He’s one of the strongest I’ve ever seen playing league and for the All Blacks, he’s one of the most balanced and gifted athletes. If I was training him I’d tell him to focus on that rather than a jab and the technical stuff.”
Williams tried to go under the radar when news spread of his return fight in June against 2-14 fighter Falefehi in Townsville.
As expected, the multi-code star exhibited some rust in his first bout since defeating American Chauncy Welliver in January 2015, and was stunned after being knocked down with an eight count in the second round.
Williams claimed a 57-56 unanimous points victory but questions remain how he will go against Hall, whose only professional fight was a draw against a very in-your-face Paul Gallen.
Fenech says Williams was all the better for taking to the ring against Falefehi, and should have more of an understanding of what Hall will dish up.
“He just has to use the beautiful reflexes that he’s got and getting in there and making the guy miss and making him pay. When you use your reflexes and combine it with speed it turns into power,” Fenech said.
“As long as you’re in the right position and someone shows you how to do those things, it wouldn’t take him long to learn.”
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