Why Sonny Bill Williams has refused to fight NRL icon Paul Gallen

·Contributor
·3-min read
On the left is Sonny Bill Williams and Paul Gallen on the right.
A potential boxing bout between Sonny Bill Williams and Paul Gallen has been on the cards for quite some time. Pic: Getty

Amid all the verbal sparring between Paul Gallen and Sonny Bill Williams over the greatest fight that never was, the former Sharks skipper landed a real kidney punch this week.

"Khoder (Nasser) tells Sonny when he can breathe - that's how embarrassing it is," an angry Gal told WWOS, his frustration at boiling point over an inability for the parties to reach agreement on a $10m superfight.

"I rang Khoder Nasser in March or April, said 'I'm retiring, we've got to get this done'. The conversation I had with Khoder was just embarrassing, ridiculous, the arrogance was through the roof.

"I hung up and nothing happened."

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Nasser, SBW's long-time manager, once boasted about sleeping on concrete floors instead of a bed because he wanted to harden himself up.

His negotiating tactics are as hard as those floors.

Nasser has convinced Williams he's deserving of a 60-40 split despite Gallen bringing just as much, if not more, to the table.

Gallen has gone the direct approach with his Channel 9 colleague in an attempt to strike a more equitable deal, but has quickly learned Nasser pulls all the strings.

SBW doesn’t do anything without his mentor's imprimatur.

I saw it first-hand during a one-on-one video interview we conducted with the dual international several years ago.

Nasser insisted on sitting in on the interview so he could listen to every word, taking his place just to the right of the camera, almost directly opposite his client.

The interview was going along nicely until I was slipped a piece of paper by a colleague suggesting we take it up a notch and veer into some non-sporting areas.

I tentatively began steering the discussion down that path before Nasser exploded.

Manager Khoder Nasser fiercely protective of SBW

He began shouting that the questions were not part of the agreed subjects – his arrangement, not ours - and entered into a slanging match with my colleague as Sonny and I remained opposite each other not knowing where it would go.

Nasser headed to the lifts and motioned SBW to follow him, which he did, while there was a ridiculous stand-off in the foyer.

What struck me later was there was no attempt from Williams to placate Nasser or diffuse the matter himself by politely declining the questions.

He sat by patiently, awaiting riding instructions from his outraged manager.

Pictured left is Sonny Bill Williams and his manager Khoder Nasser on the right.
Manager Khoder Nasser has exacting standards when it comes to his client Sonny Bill Williams. Pic: Getty

He was happy to walk or stay.

We eventually sat down and finished what became a strained interview.

Boxers are never fully retired but Gallen insists he is hanging the gloves up up at the end of the year, meaning the fight with Williams will never happen.

Instead, the former Blues skipper will beat two Queenslanders for the price of one in next Thursday's Origin Rumble, while SBW takes on out-of-shape ex-UFC champ Mark Hunt in November.

Both are circus carnival fights.

Gallen badly wanted the Williams fight and the Kiwi could have made it happened if he was willing to over-ride his influential ringmaster.

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