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Boxing botch-up: Kiwi ring announcer to retire following backlash

Benjamin Plummer,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 May 2024, 2:10pm

Boxing botch-up: Kiwi ring announcer to retire following backlash

Benjamin Plummer,
Publish Date
Thu, 16 May 2024, 2:10pm

The Kiwi-American ring announcer who called out the incorrect winner after a women’s boxing title fight in Australia last weekend is quitting the role, following social media outrage over the incident.

Cherneka Johnson made history, becoming the second Māori boxer to become a two-division world champion after winning the WBA Bantamweight title.

But it was the controversy from American-New Zealander Lt Dan Hennessey, who announced the fight’s winner, that stole the headlines.

After 10 rounds of boxing, the decision went to the judge’s scorecards, where Hennessey announced Johnson’s opponent and UK’s reigning world champion, Nina Hughes, as the majority winner.

Video circulating on social media shows Hughes celebrating with her team inside the ring, before Hennessey curiously calls the two boxers back in the middle of the ring seconds later.

Confused, Johnson and Hughes returned only for Hennessey to announce that the winner was, in fact, Johnson.

“Is this guy for real? Is this guy, Lt Dan Hennessey, for real?” commentator Joe Tessitore said on the US ESPN broadcast. Immediately after the botched announcement.

“Get this dude up out of here, man,” Hall of Fame boxer Tim Bradley added.

Hughes waves her arms and shakes her head at the announcer as Johnson celebrates the rollercoaster of emotions.

Professional boxing judge Benjamin Watt said: “American commentators have said that Dan Hennessey was inexperienced and that this botched announcement was the biggest in history. They have said that this has never happened before.”

Hennessey initially apologised on his Facebook page, saying he was “crushed” by the error, before adding another post announcing he would act as master of ceremonies one last time, before giving the game up.

“Thank you all for the kind words,” he said. “Unfortunately, the worldwide backlash is absolutely incredible and it’s affecting my mental health to a degree where I will have one more show ever.

“I am doing this show because I am still a man of my word ... I love and will keep in touch with all my friends from around the world. Thank you.

“No longer the world’s punching bag. I’m out.”

Posts on social media labelled the incident as unprofessional.

“How unprofessional. Imagine the emotions for Cherneka Johnson and Nina Hughes had as [they] lost/won the title there,” one person wrote on X.

The official WBA Boxing social media accounts had already posted, congratulating Hughes as the winner.

In a press conference after the fight, Hughes said she felt she’d been robbed “big time”.

“As soon as they called me back I thought, ‘What’s going on?’ and then they started announcing the scores again and I thought, ‘They’re taking this away from me, I know it’,” she said.

Hughes’ coach Kevin Lilley said the incident was “bull****”.

“We’ve got all the respect in the world for Cherneka and the team, they’ve been good all the way through, but that’s bull****.”

Benjamin Plummer is an Auckland-based reporter who covers breaking news. He has worked for the Herald since 2022.

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