'We made a big mistake‚' says boxer Thulani Mbenge's camp
Boxer Thulani "Evolution" Mbenge and his camp regret their decision to fight Sebastian Formella in his backyard after the South African lost his IBO welterweight to the German in Hamburg‚ Germany‚ at the weekend.
Formella ended Mbenge's reign in what was his second defence of the belt the boxer from Mdantsane won on March 3 last year after defeating Diego Cruz on points at Emperors Palace.
There were no knockdown in Mbenge's fight against Formella but the deposed champion lost a point in the ninth round for low blows.
Judges Jerom Lades from France scored the somewhat scrappy fight 114-113 while Matteo Montella from Italy scored it 116-112‚ with American Roark Young scoring it 115-112.
While Mbenge suffered his first loss after 15 straight wins since he turned professional in 2015‚ Formella remained undefeated after 21 fights.
Smith‚ whose hard work and results earned him the nomination for 2018 BSA trainer of the year award‚ told TimesLIVE that travelling to Germany may not have been a great idea.
"Obviously we are very disappointed with result and everything‚" he said from Germany.
"First of all‚ in hindsight‚ we should not have left our shores to defend our belt.
"I think it was bit of mistake to fight in his (Formella) home town and in front of his home crowd‚ which was very supportive."
The trip to Germany was Mbenge's first fight out of the country as a pro boxer since turning professional in 2015.
"I mean‚ I think Thulani started to feel the pressure from the crowd and the referee (Leszek Jankwiak from Poland)‚" he said.
"I think Thulani won the fight but I don't think his performance was clinical.
"I think Thulani did enough to defend his belt‚" said Smith‚ who helped Mbenge to win the SA‚ ABU and WBC International belts in a short space of time.
"Hopefully we can get a rematch or find another solution‚" he said.
"For now it is to come back home and think about our future.
"It was great learning curve.
"Obviously a win would have been better‚ or worse scenario at least a draw.
"But like I said these guys know how to influence the outcome of events.
"I don't know if the fans saw it at home. What can I say."
There are mixed feelings in SA.
Some fight fans say the boxer of the year was robbed while some say but judges got it right.