A bout in South Africa between local lightweights Simiso Buthelezi and Siphesihle Mntungwa produced one of the most bizarre endings in recent memory this past Sunday when Buthelezi, after eating a counter jab while pressuring Mntungwa into the ropes, suddenly turned and began swinging at air during the referee’s reset. He was subsequently placed into an induced coma for a brain bleed, and Boxing South Africa announced today that he’d “succumbed to the injury.”
He was 24 years old.
By all accounts, nothing unusual occurred in the buildup; Tim Boxeo reports that Buthelezi was most likely ahead going into the 10th and final round. There was no accumulation of punches and the shot that appeared to do the damage didn’t look hard enough to even slow Buthelezi’s advance. Barring any extenuating factors from outside the ring, the simplest explanation seems to be that he just got hit wrong.
It’s another terrifying reminder of what these athletes risk every time they step into the ring or cage, and how little it actually takes to produce permanent damage. Our thoughts are with Buthelezi’s family.