IS there still professionalism in boxing?
Three incidents in one tournament back this crucial question.
Boxers' lives are at stake when referees are as negligent, reckless and utterly unprofessional as evidenced at the latest box-and-dine tournament in Turffontein, Johannesburg on Thursday night.
Referee Boitumelo Madiba officiated in a lightweight bout between Kenneth Nkosi and Edward Khwezi, while Amos Lusenga was the third man inside the ring when Gonorenda Chomunorwa fought Rudy Bruwer in the super middleweight contest.
Nkosi's vicious right sent Khwezi sagging against the ropes in the first round. There was no way that he could continue with the fight.
He needed referee Madiba's protection, such as removing his mouth piece in order for him to breath, but Madiba conducted a mandatory count.
Khwezi's corner sensed danger and threw in the towel.
Lusenga took the cake. First, he did not see that a fighter had lost the gum guard, yet his duty entails monitoring and seeing each and every movement of boxers. Basically, it has to do with eyesight.
Lusenga arrogantly forced Bruwer's trainer, Harold Volbrecht to take the gum guard and give it to his fighter, but Volbrecht pointed out that the mouth piece belonged to Chomunorwa.
Lusenga was not buying it. This niggling took away quality time. It worked to Chomuno-rwa's favour, who was under pressure from Bruwer at the time.
Finally, Lusenga reluctantly called Chomunorwa and just shoved the gum protector inside his mouth without even attempting to clean it, after he had picked it up from the floor.
Then came the defining moment of Lusenga's incompetence when he ruled to ringside judges that the result of the fight, which was stopped in the fifth round due to the doctor's advice, was a TKO.
The rules are clear: any incident which forces a fight to be stopped after four rounds is a technical decision, but Lusenga said the verdict was a TKO.
Chomunorwa was the deserving winner.
It was a good tournament which was marred by a comedy of errors from some officials who embarrassed the sport.