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The comment from Sonny Bill Williams that left Parramatta Eels forward Junior Paulo star-struck ahead of Battle on the Reef boxing clash in Townsville

  • Sonny Bill Williams is a fan of Junior Paulo
  • Believes NRL star could transition to boxing
  • Paulo was humbled by Williams’ comments
  • Eels star is on undercard of Battle on the Reef

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Parramatta Eels prop Junior Paulo has revealed high praise from Sonny Bill Williams left him stunned ahead of his boxing bout on Saturday night in Townsville.

Paulo, 29, will fight former Broncos front-rower Ben Hannant as part of the Battle on the Reef undercard and was blown away after Williams said the enforcer was good enough to carve out a career in the ring.

‘I’ve got a lot of respect and time for Junior Paulo. He’s handy in the ring. He’s got fast hands just like all the Islanders – got those fast-twitch fibres,’ Williams said.

‘JP, he’s one that could actually take up a bit of a profession in boxing because he knows his way around it.’

Paulo was humbled by the comments, stating he was star-struck by the cross-code star, who won two NRL premierships and two Rugby World Cups in his decorated sporting career, which also included a boxing record of nine wins from 10 career bouts.

Parramatta Eels prop Junior Paulo has revealed high praise from Sonny Bill Williams left him stunned ahead of his boxing bout on Saturday night in Townsville

Parramatta Eels prop Junior Paulo has revealed high praise from Sonny Bill Williams left him stunned ahead of his boxing bout on Saturday night in Townsville

Williams believes Paulo is good enough to be a professional boxer if he seeks a new sporting challenge away from the NRL

Williams believes Paulo is good enough to be a professional boxer if he seeks a new sporting challenge away from the NRL

Williams believes Paulo is good enough to be a professional boxer if he seeks a new sporting challenge away from the NRL

Order Battle on the Reef, live & exclusive on Stan Pay-Per-View this Saturday night from 6:30pm AEDT.

‘First of all, I think it’s pretty cool to have Sony talk me up,’ he told Wide World of Sports.

‘We all know the aura he brings. He’s been able to excel in many sporting arenas.

‘Everyone knows what he did on the footy field. It’s pretty cool and yeah, I’m kind of star-struck by it [praise].’

Eels fans shouldn’t be too concerned about Paulo’s playing future – he doesn’t plan on leaving the NRL anytime soon.

‘First and foremost, I’m a footy player,’ he said.

‘When these opportunities present themselves you tend to enjoy the challenge and the training that comes with it.

‘Obviously it helps to keep fit, throughout the off-season. Turns out after the first fight I had [against Paul Gallen in 2016], I turned out half decent, people reckon. 

‘So why not just keep taking these opportunities as they come?’

Order Battle on the Reef, live & exclusive on Stan Pay-Per-View this Saturday night from 6:30pm AEDT.

Battle on the Reef full fight card:

* Paulo Aokuso v Gabriel Omar Diaz for the IBO Intercontinental Light-Heavyweight Title

* Jason Taumalolo v Reagan Campbell-Gillard (heavyweight)

* Tevita Pangai Junior v Frank Amato (heavyweight)

* Nelson Asofa-Solomona v Jarrod Wallace (heavyweight)

* Junior Paulo v Ben Hannant (heavyweight)

* Justin Hodges v Matt Cooper (heavyweight)

* Jermaine Pangai v Nepote Dawadawa (heavyweight)

* Austin Aokuso v Filimoni Naliva Jr (cruiserweight)

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