Barry Hall has criticised Sonny Bill Williams for continuing to delay the hotly anticipated fight between the two former star footballers.
Last week Williams confirmed he would be eager to return to boxing to fight Hall and Cronulla Sharks great Paul Gallen, but said he was in no rush to do so, saying he wanted to build up his boxing skills over a two-year “process”.
“When it comes to fighting Paul Gallen or Barry Hall, those guys are all part of the process but for me it’s about the daily grind and being wholeheartedly in it,” Williams told ABC Radio.
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Hall has only had one professional boxing fight — a draw against the then-undefeated Gallen in 2019 — and has since been keenly eyeing a bout with Williams.
The former Sydney Swans captain has revealed he was “frustrated” by Williams’ latest comments, and the constant delay tactics after a verbal commitment to have a fight was made between their two camps.
“Look, I am a bit frustrated to be perfectly honest,” Hall told news.com.au.
“It’s been spoken about, this fight, for a very long time. I fought Paul Gallen coming up on two years ago now and we were talking about that fight (with SBW) around that time.
“So it’s been in the making for such a long time. Sonny finally retired (from rugby) so we thought, ‘OK, here we go, we’ll get the ball rolling a bit quicker now’ and it’s just been delay after delay.
“I know everyone’s using the Covid excuse but I’ve seen fights happen around me with other promotions.
“So it’s been a bit frustrating. I’ve been holding out for this fight. I could have fought other guys and had two or three fights and been done but we’ve held out.”
Hall said he would be willing to fight Williams “tomorrow” and took a swipe at the former code-hopper for contesting his first bout in six years in June, which he only just won against Waikato Falefehi in Townsville.
“I understand from their point of view that they want the best preparation they can,” Hall said.
“But on the flip side of that — I’m 44, I’ve had one fight and I’m happy to fight him straight away.
“I’m not sure what all the delays are. They’ve already snuck in a fight under the radar and deceived us a little bit.”
Hall suggested Williams’ camp is dragging out the Kiwi’s boxing career with low-level fights because a loss to Hall could spell the end to his future in the ring.
“In the whole grand scheme of things, they’ve obviously got a plan in place and one of those is to be as best prepared as they can,” he said.
“From their point of view, if they lose to me, which will happen, their plans … where do they go from there.
“I think they’re trying to prepare as best they can to fight me.”
The 44-year-old said his strong performance in his fight with Gallen — which he argued he won — shows he’s up to the task of taking on an opponent like Williams with a relatively short preparation.
“I’m happy to fight him tomorrow,” Hall said.
“I don’t need preparation. I fought a guy who was 10-0 in my first fight with just 10 weeks preparation.
“That’s just the mindset I’ve got. I’ll fight anyone. Give me 8-10 weeks and I’ll fight anyone.”
When asked if he thinks he can beat Williams, Hall replied: “Absolutely”.
“I’ve watched Paul Gallen and Sonny Bill fight.
“I was retired at that stage from football and I wasn’t thinking about fighting them but as soon as I saw them fight, both of them, I thought I could beat those guys straight away, no shadow of a doubt.”
Hall is nine years older than Williams but is confident his boxing skills are sharper than ever.
“Obviously there’s the age gap,” he said.
“I’m not Benjamin Button, I can’t turn back the age clock.
“But I’ve still got the skills. I’m fit, I’ve got the boxing knowledge, I’ve got a good amateur pedigree. I can absolutely hang with these guys.
“I’m not in this for a boxing career. I’m in this because I’m able to do it, I can hang with these guys and I think I can beat them. And I’ve got two or three fights left in me.”
In an ideal scenario, Hall would like to fight Williams and then take on Gallen again before retiring from boxing for good.
The ex-AFL star said he is training twice a day, five times a week and issued an ominous warning to his potential opponents.
“If I was in the gym now and struggling and slowing down I probably wouldn’t even consider doing it, but I’m not,” he said.
“I’m actually improving, I’m getting better. My punching power has gone through the roof since the Gallen fight so I actually can’t wait to get in there and show people what I can do.
“I absolutely think I can beat them both.”
“I’ve got a good (fitness) base under my belt. I’m miles ahead of where I started with the Paul Gallen first fight.
“I’m in a pretty good place. I love training, I love keeping fit.”
Asked what his motivation for fighting the likes of Williams and Gallen is, Hall mentioned several factors, including chasing a similar “high” to what he experienced during his AFL career and the chance to get one over his fellow ex-footballers.
“I don’t get the highs of the achievements of football anymore and I got a really good buzz from that,” he said.
“When I had the Gallen fight the first time, although the decision was a draw, I thought I won the fight.
“I had a really good feeling after that, it sort of turned back the clock a bit. Chasing those sorts of feelings is another thing.
While he didn’t nominate an exact figure he’d like to get paid to fight Williams, Hall indicated a significant pay packet he could use to support his family was a key motivation.
“The be all and end all of this is it’s a bit of a retirement package for my kids,” he said.
“It’s not all about me and earning money and driving around flash cars. I’ve got a family to look after and I want them to have the best possible life.
“So it’s retirement package, it’s bragging rights, and it’s because I can still do this at a high level and I think I can beat these guys.”
As for the next steps, Hall is eager to lock in a date to fight Williams that he can build his training towards.
In an ideal situation, he would like to fight him in late January or February next year on the Gold Coast or in Sydney, where they both spent large periods of their football careers.
“Contact’s been made for quite a while now and that’s probably the frustration of ‘OK, well let’s commit’,” Hall said.
“I understand you want warm ups and those sorts of things and I agreed upon that but it’s just dragging out way too far now.
“I’m not a trash talker, I’m just stating facts.
“I’m sort of getting a little bit impatient about uncertainty now. If it’s not going to happen I’ll move on to other things. We just need this locked away.
“I think he wants to have a fight before he fights me, I think he’s indicated that.
“So do that, make sure you win and then let’s go, let’s do it.
“Let’s get these contracts signed, let’s get a date locked in and let’s work towards something.”