Simiso Buthelezi lost the WBF African lightweight title in inexplicable circumstances after seemingly mistaking the referee for his opponent.
This all came after he managed to knock down Siphesihle Mntungwa in the final round of the fight.
Despite sending his opponent into the tangle of ropes mere moments before, Buthelezi got caught in a complete haze and mistook the referee for his competitor upon the fight’s resumption.
Once the official stepped aside as Buthelezi advanced guns blazing, the fighter continued to swing punches into the air with Mntungwa cautiously approaching from behind.
The remarkable and daunting development was met with disbelief from the commentators and those ringside, with one commentator saying: “He doesn’t know where he is.”
Buthelezi (4-1) looked to be in complete control of the occasion and at 2:43 victory appeared a formality as Mntungwa (7-1-2) crashed to the canvas, but it was the latter who emerged victorious and jumped into exuberant celebration after the strange win.
With concerns of injury to the brain, Buthelezi was swiftly removed from the ring and received immediate medical attention, with sources in South Africa now stating that the fighter is in stable condition and will continue to receive aid as the cause behind the odd response is determined.
Despite officially winning the title, the belt ceremony has been postponed for Mntungwa due to the exceptional circumstances surrounding his triumph.
The exact cause of the issue is still obscured, with Buthelezi showing little sign of damage in the build-up to the finish. Dehydration, heat exhaustion or a delayed reaction to a blow to the head are all possibilities as doctors look to determine the issue.
The bizarre reaction is certainly an anomaly, yet illuminates the dangerous nature of combat sports; laying underneath the thrill and glamour of the sport sits the possibility for consequences as fighters trade blows.