The wheels have already been put in motion to ensure Ryno Liebenberg isn’t prejudiced by the IBF after the controversial circumstances surrounding his TKO loss to Vincent Feigenbutz in Germany on Saturday.
Liebenberg was “stopped” in the sixth, referee Massimiliano Bianco ruling that it was severe enough to call a halt, even though he never consulted the ringside physician. The cut had been caused by a headbutt in the fifth, which he also missed, deeming it a punch.
It was a cruel turn of events for Liebenberg, who had entered the ring to a chorus of boos and left it to cheers. By most accounts, he was up 4-1 on rounds, having buckled Feigenbutz in both the third and fifth rounds. Later, spectators at the fight even visited him at his hotel to express their shock at the decision.
“I could feel the guy’s power, but the truth is that at super-middleweight this guy’s best punch was like a jab from Johnny Muller,” said a disconsolate Liebenberg. “Our plan was to come on strong and stop him late. I stuck to the plan, I was busting him up. I was shocked by the ref, who said he didn’t need a doctor, he’s a cardiologist! It was a scratch, little more. I’ve fought with far worse.”
Trainer Colin Nathan concurred and was furious, not least
because it’s the second time in recent months that the IBF has stiffed him. There was another shocker by the world body when Hekkie Budler lost to Milan Melindo in September. Fortunately, they later mandated a rematch based on their official’s incompetence.
“The truth is that Ryno has never fought better. His hands were up, he was tight and he boxed beautifully,” said Nathan.
While Liebenberg had said he would retire in the event of a defeat, two things stack up against this. The first is that the loss was the result of German home cooking rather than any fault of his own or appreciable dip in performance. The second is that promoter Rodney Berman wants to see him continue.
“I’m not whinging, but justice must be served, which is why I’ve petitioned the IBF. [IBF president] Daryl Peoples has already come back to me saying they will look into it. I’m sure they’ll do the right thing.
“I’ve also pleaded our case to the [German promoters] Sauerlands. It was stopped prematurely, with Ryno on top against the number four. There’s a spot on our June bill for Ryno, if he wants it.”