NZ boxing title is no joke:
Sonny Bill Williams knows his bid for the New Zealand heavyweight boxing crown has its knockers, but he says victory will represent a huge achievement for him.
The dual rugby league and union international steps into the ring in Hamilton next Wednesday night for his fifth professional bout, against American Clarence Tillman.
His previous fights have all resulted in victories, but his performances haven't convinced the sceptics.
Williams isn't bothered.
"I stopped buying newspapers, and listening to media reports, a long time ago," he said at his final open training session on Thursday.
"Every since I was young, it's just come with the territory.
"You always have your knockers but you can't dwell on negatives or nothing positive will come out of it. You won't get to where you want to get to."
The 26-year-old Williams rated winning the heavyweight title alongside his footballing achievements.
"A lot of people are writing it off, saying it's a joke or whatever, but for me it's massive," he said.
"Being able to represent New Zealand in both codes and then, God willing, become New Zealand champ - it will make me a very happy man."
The 34-year-old Tillman, who hails from New Orleans but lives in Auckland, has a record of 11 wins, eight losses and two draws.
At 1.95cm and 125kg, he is taller and heavier than Williams, who is 1.91cm and 108kg.
Williams said Tillman was a big step up in class for him.
"He's a big man - bigger than me, weighs a bit more than me," he said.
"He can throw a punch, too. I have to be on my toes, but I'm confident in my ability."
Williams has combined preparing for the fight with his pre-season training with Super rugby side the Chiefs and his team-mates will be ringside to support him.
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