The temperature just got turned up a whole lot on the Mateusz Masternak-Johnny Muller big-fight controversy.
Embarrassed by the shemozzle around the scoring, which saw Muller astonishingly awarded a points win, Rodney Berman has offered the Polish fighter a rematch in his backyard.
The boxer’s camp has, in turn, said Masternak will be happy to return to Emperors Palace to set the record straight – with one proviso. They want one judge from Germany, another from South Africa and a neutral one.
In the context of boxing, it’s an extraordinary turn of events. Not only has Berman sympathised with the plight of the opposition fighter, he has offered him a chance to set it right. This is partly to do with Berman’s sense of injustice around the fiasco, but also his excellent relationship with Sauerland Promotions, who look after Masternak. A mess around a single fight, even if it is entirely due to two boxing judges, is hardly worth jeopardising a relationship over.
Sauerland Promotions has already dispatched a formal protest to Boxing South Africa, asking for the decision to be reversed. It includes the report of an independent fight analyst (similar to CompuBox) which summarised that for every single scoring punch landed by Muller, Masternak connected with four.
Part of the letter deals specifically with the scoring: “The fact that there were two ‘counts’ in separate rounds meant that Mr Muller would have to win every other round in the 10-round contest. Not even the most impartial observer would be able to afford Mr Muller such scoring. Boxing decisions are often criticised, but some ‘see it this way and some see it that way’. There is only ‘one way’ anyone could and should have seen this fight.”
Sauerland also point out the fact that it will be very difficult to convince any of their fighters to travel to SA “unless this decision is immediately reversed”.
“Up until this stage our team felt very welcome in South Africa and were treated with absolute professionalism and respect by your commission and the Golden Gloves team.”
Incidentally, the Sauerland family has very close connections to South Africa as its founder, Wilfried, an International Hall of Fame promoter, lives in South Africa and for many years SA officials have worked Sauerland Promotions’ tournaments.
Muller was obviously happy to take the win and believes he won squarely. Fortunately, his positive attitude – “I’ll fight anyone, just bring them” – is refreshing in this day and age and he will be champing at the bit to earn another good purse, even if it means trekking to Masternak’s European bolt-hole or doing it again with more neutral judges.
As unlikely as it seems, it is also an opportunity to seal the deal with a more convincing win.