Two South Africans fighting at different venues in Germany on the same night and both return home with reason to be unhappy with the officials. That is exactly what happened this weekend.
Thulani Mbenge put his IBO welterweight title on the line against Sebastian Formella and despite looking like he had done enough to win the judges gave the victory to the German.
Mbenge fought Formella, the judges and the referee at the CU Arena. There was just no winning.
The referee warned and eventually deducted a point from Mbenge for landing what looked like legitimate body shots. Despite the deduction the South African seemed to be winning the rounds and must have been furious when Formella was named the winner.
The question now is: what happens from here?
Mbenge’s promoter Golden Gloves have already stated on their website that they have activated their immediate rematch clause which should be fought within 120 days.
The issue, which is always the problem whenever an up and coming fighter with dreams of reaching the top of the sport gets done in by the officials, is that this will slow down his progress. Mbenge was rated at number 10 by the WBC before the fight and now he moves further back. To add salt to injury the records will always show that he lost to Formella, a fighter who one does not expect to reach the top of the division.
Another question is do we still consider Mbenge as the man who can mix it with the division’s elite?
As much as I believe Mbenge deserved to have his arm raised at the end of the night, one cannot help feeling that the South African’s performance was not as good as we have come to expect from him.
The much talked about power that he possesses did not seem to bother Formella as much as it was a problem for the likes of Miguel Vazquez and Diego Chaves who Mbenge stopped in 2018.
As much as Vazquez and Chaves are former titleholders they do seem a little long in the tooth while Formella with just 20 fights under his belt was not going to just roll over.
If Mbenge wins the rematch, which I expect him to, and he continues to climb up the ranks, would he be able to bother elite fighters with that power?
As they say: “time will tell”.
Off course we can never talk about robberies in Germany without mentioning Ryno Liebenberg.
The man nicknamed “The Lion” has been robbed so many times in Germany that I wonder if he still carries his wallet with him when he goes to the European country.
Despite dominating his fight against Nick Hannig for the WBC International light heavyweight title, especially in the later rounds, the judges still managed to call it a draw in Wiesbaden.
There were times during the fight when Hannig appeared to be holding on for dear life but somehow two of the officials felt that it was a draw and even more shocking a third judge had the German winning the fight.
With Liebenberg aged 35 and him having previously stated that he is edging closer to the end of his career, one wonders what does this result mean for him.
His performance on Saturday suggested that he can fight on and has a handful of fights left in him.
It will be interesting to see who and what Liebenberg and his handlers have in store for the man from the West Rand.