Boxing: Sonny Bill Williams survives early knockdown to prevail in low-key return to the ring

Sonny Bill Williams survived a knockdown in a hard-fought decision win over Waikato Falefehi on his return to the boxing ring.

The dual international hadn't laced up gloves since 2018, but showed great heart and a sturdy chin during the six-round bout at the Townsville Entertainment Centre. 

Williams was dropped in the second round, but was able to recover quickly and win the final four frames to maintain his unbeaten streak - which now stands at nine.

Saturday's fight was given next to no publicity with the former All Blacks preferring to make his return to the squared circle with as little fanfare as possible.

Falefehi's record is at best unflattering at 2-14 heading into the bout, but Williams is looking for a step up in competition next time out, calling on a fight with AFL legend Barry Hall.

Hall fought Paul Gallen to a draw on his professional debut in 2019.

"I hope so, hopefully I can get a fight or two in before then and sharpen up a bit more,” said Williams.

Williams' return to the ring has reignited interest in a fight with fellow former NRL star Gallen - who recently suffered his first professional loss at the hands of rising Australian heavyweight Justice Huni.

Both parties have previously expressed a desire to fight, engaging in a verbal sparring session during a Channel 9 rugby league broadcast.

"I've said it before and I’ll say it again, I’ll fight Paul,” Williams said.

"But I’ve got to do my due diligence as he had in the past few years. You know what I mean? That means sizing him up."

Gallen replied: "He sized me up already tonight. He goes, ‘You’re a bit shorter than before.'

"I’ve got great respect for what Sonny has done in sport. But as I said, it remains to be seen whether this fight will happen.

"Maybe one day me and Sonny can happen. I’ve said it over and over for many years now, let’s do it. 

"I still have my doubts it will ever happen though, big boy."