- Sonny Bill Williams to continue pro boxing career alongside rugby
- NZRU confirm centre will have two bouts in 2011
Photo: Getty Images
New Zealand Rugby Union has agreed that All Black star Sonny Bill Williams is to fight in two professional boxing bouts in 2011.
Williams will fight Australian Scott Lewis on January 29, which is only three weeks before his Super 15 season starts with the Crusaders.
Neil Sorensen, the NZRU general manager, said: "There's a risk that he will get injured, absolutely, but it one that we think is worth taking.
"He's an amazing athlete, he's going to be in a professional environment, he's boxed before and we're happy with the risks."
Williams has only a handful of international caps but is seen to be an integral part of the All Black squad who will host the Rugby World Cup in November 2011.
The second of Williams' bouts has been scheduled for early April or early June.
Boxing beneficial for rugby – Williams
Leaving only three months before the tournament, the 25-year-old believes these fights will benefit his rugby.
"I want to push myself and take myself out of my comfort zone instead of just having a holiday," he said.
"I feel if I do this, because it's what I've done over in the last couple of years, I'm only going to grow as a player on the field."
Reports in New Zealand have stated that Williams was able to add provisions in to his contract allowing him to fight.
Sorensen confirmed that it was the only way of stopping him re-signing for wealthy French club Toulon.
"We couldn't compete with Toulon, we were millions and millions (of dollars) apart and this was just one way of securing him," he said.
Williams will fight 36-year-old forklift truck driver Lewis in Newcastle, Australia.