Brisbane, Australia – The referee who officiated the Sonny Bill Williams-Frans Botha fight has told Australian Associated Press that he was informed about an alleged bribe offered to the veteran South African heavyweight boxer before Friday's bout started.
Williams, a dual rugby international for New Zealand, defeated Botha on points in a 10-round WBA bout in Brisbane.
Botha, who challenged Lennox Lewis and Vladimir Klitschko for world titles in a 23-year career, has since claimed he didn't know the fight was been reduced to 10, condemned the anti-doping procedures and alleged that an Australia-based promoter offered him a bribe to throw the contest.
Boxing official Tony Kettlewell was quoted as telling AAP on Thursday that former IBF world lightweight champion Philip Holiday, an assistant in Botha's team, relayed the bribe allegation to him.
“Philip just said (Botha) was offered so much money to throw the fight and he refused to,” Kettlewell was quoted as saying.
Kettlewell said he thought it was “hearsay” but he reported it to another judge, Steve Marshall, “just to let him know”.
“I didn't get a chance to speak to any other official about it because we were busy on the night,” he said.
Botha has asked his management to try and get the result against Williams wiped off his record, and is reportedly seeking a rematch.
Promoter Khoder Nasser denied any bribe was offered to Botha, and questioned the timing of the allegation. There was no suggestion from any side that Williams was aware that an allegation had been made.
There was no WBA official at the bout. John Hogg, who was supervisor at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre venue on behalf of the Australian National Boxing Federation, said he hadn't heard anything about the bribe allegation until it hit the headlines.
“Nobody said anything to me. It certainly was not brought to my attention,” Hogg said in a telephone interview with The Associated Press. “I was in and out of (Botha's) dressing room all night.”
He said Kettlewell and Marshall didn't mention it to him, nor did Holiday.
“It all sounds a little bit fanciful,” Hogg said of Botha's claim that Nasser had taken him to park to offer him the bribe. “Whether the police would be interested remains to be seen.”
Hogg said there was no indication that Botha tried to throw the bout, despite being well behind on points after eight rounds.
He said he didn't have any evidence on the night to warrant making a report to higher boxing regulators, but was happy to answer questions if any kind of investigation was launched.
“If the police were to mount an investigation we'd be more than happy to cooperate,” he said. – Sapa-AP