Sonny Bill Williams has admitted his career may be over after he was stunned by UFC legend Mark Hunt in their fight on Saturday night.
Williams suffered the first loss of his professional boxing career after he was rocked and fell to the canvas in the fourth round and never recovered.
For a once-in-a-generation talent that was set to transcend the NRL almost 20-years-ago, this loss puts a final exclamation point on a career some-what wasted.
Watch Gallen v Hodges 2 LIVE on Main Event available on Kayo Sports, Wednesday November 23 from 7pm AEDT ORDER NOW >
It is the cold brutal truth that Sonny Bill Williams will not go down as an NRL legend, All Blacks legend or boxing legend.
Channel 9 sport presenter Roz Kelly inadvertently summed it up on Sunday morning.
“I thought Sonny Bill was invincible?” she said on Sports Sunday.
“I thought he was a machine.”
A freak talent that showed glimpses of being truly dominant in rugby league and rugby union, Williams was rarely the most important player on the field for the All Blacks and finished with just 128 appearances in the NRL.
Stretched too thin across three sports, he now risks being remembered as a “Bo Jackson” — the American star that managed to jump between professional baseball and the NFL.
Remember back to 2004 when the Bulldogs let Johnathan Thurston leave to hold onto Williams.
The Kiwi has had a storied career, the likes of which most athletes can only dream of, but it could be argued Thurston has had the greater career.
Thurston is potentially a future immortal.
Will anyone remember Williams’ name in 50 years?
The way his boxing career has ended with a series of gimmick bouts also pushes his reputation towards being a sideshow alley attraction more than he is one of the greatest sportsmen Australia and New Zealand have ever known.
At the age of 37, his final return to boxing has ended with an exhibition charity fight against reality TV star Stu Laundy in 2018, a win over Waikato Falefehi, a fighter who has just three wins from 24 fights, a thundering victory over former AFL star Barry Hall and the loss to 48-year-old Hunt.
That is not the stuff of legend. And this could be the final chapter.
“At this stage, I’m not even sure if I’ll fight again,” Williams said.
“That could be it for me too. 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, but it is what it is.”
Williams has also repeatedly turned down pleas from former NRL hard man Paul Gallen to step into the ring. Suddenly he would no longer even be the main attraction if they were to step into the ring.
“As disappointing as it is because of what happened tonight, I’ll always be grateful for the friendships I’ve made and the life I’ve been able to live,” Williams said.
“The opportunities that sport has brought to not just myself but my close family members.
“We came from nothing, so to sit here and see the growth I’ve had as a person, as a man, also being able to see the fruits of my labour that has affected my family members has been life-changing.”
Williams went into the heavyweight fight with a 9-0.
The cross-code superstar started the fight well and appeared the better boxer before both Williams and Hunt opened the shoulders and started swinging hard in the third round.
Hunt then likely ended Williams’ career in the next round.
He knocked Williams’ mouthguard out with a brutal right hand before dropping him with a couple of hooks.
“Sonny Bill is down,” commentator Andy Raymond said on Stan Sport.
“He’s hurt. Against the odds, Sonny Bill Williams has been dropped. His eyes are not clear.”
Williams survived the standing count but didn’t last much longer, as Hunt landed a powerful fight jab to his jaw and continued to hammer Williams with both hands against the ropes.
“Mark Hunt, in his final fight, stops the legend that is Sonny Bill Williams. What a fight,” Raymond said.
Australian boxing legend Danny Green added: “Wow that was unbelievable.”
Williams was seeing stars and the referee had no choice but to stop the fight. The former rugby league and union star could scarcely believe it as he went down on his haunches in pain.
Earlier, NRL star Tevita Pangai Jr claimed a stunning knockout win over Jeremiah Tupai with his new Bulldogs coach Cameron Ciraldo watching ringside.