Rugby stars Williams, Cooper win boxing bouts


BRISBANE, Australia (AP) -Sonny Bill Williams and Quade Cooper left the rugby pitch to win fights on a boxing card at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Friday.

Williams, the former All Black who will return to playing in rugby league with the Sydney Roosters in two weeks, won a controversial unanimous points decision over South African Frans Botha in a 10-round fight for the vacant WBA International heavyweight title.

Wallaby flyhalf Cooper knocked out his opponent in the first round of his professional boxing debut - a cruiserweight fight against a car accident investigator.

Williams improved his record to 6-0 (3 KO). The 44-year-old Botha, who has included Mike Tyson, Lennox Lewis and Evander Holyfield among his 61 opponents, dropped to 48-10-3 (29 KO).

Despite battering Williams, Botha was declared the loser. Williams was booed from the ring.

Botha has lost five of his last six bouts and hadn't fought since a points loss to Italian Francesco Pianeta in Germany last year.

Cooper received permission from the Australian Rugby Union and his Queensland Reds side to box ahead of the Super 15 and test season, which starts for the Reds next weekend.

Dunnett almost sent Cooper to the canvas in the first round, but Cooper bounced back to knock Dunnett out with a stunning combination.

Copyright 2016 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.

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