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Cherneka ‘Sugar Neekz’ Johnson reacts to ring announcer’s massive viral error

Cherneka Johnson can celebrate being a world champion again, even if it looked like that wasn’t the case for a few fateful moments on fight night.

This past Saturday’s Vasiliy Lomachenko vs. George Kambosos boxing card went viral well before the main event, when Johnson’s bantamweight title bout against Nina Hughes flew off the rails during the reading of the scores. Ring announcer Dan Hennessey initially declared that it was Hughes who won a majority decision, when in reality it was Johnson that had actually earned the judges’ call.

The mistake was quickly corrected, but it was too late to stop Johnson’s moment from being overshadowed by Hennessey’s error.

“The feeling is just something I’ve never experienced before,” Johnson said on The MMA Hour. “It’s pretty crazy watching it again. There were butterflies in my stomach. How do you go from such a low point to trying to celebrate such a high point, you know?”

“When I hear a draw, I was like, ‘Aw man, come on,’” Johnson continued. “I was confident that I had done enough, so I was hoping the last two [scorecards] went my way — 98-92, I would have thought maybe 97-93 if anything, but then I was like, ‘OK, we’ve got this. We’ve got that in the bag.’ I felt the referee actually grab my hand, so I was sort of half ready to put my hand up too, and then it went to ‘and still’ and my heart sort of sank. I was like, ‘Oh wow.’ But me being me I was like, ‘Humble in defeat. Just take it on the chin. This is boxing.’ I wasn’t prepared on TV to kick up a stink about it, and yeah, it was a big low. A big, big low.”

Hennessey has since taken full responsibility for his mistake, apologizing to all parties involved via social media. Johnson said that she accepts the apology, not wanting to dwell on the moment much longer.

In video of the scene, referee Bill Seth can clearly be seen flinching as the call is made, stopping himself from raising Johnson’s hand and looking visibly confused. As it turns out, he had good reason to assume that it was Johnson whose name was about to be called.

“What had happened was the referee actually came and saw me after the fight and he had seen the scorecards before the announcement was made,” Johnson said. “So he was like, ‘I knew the scores, so I was ready to raise your hand. And then when it went to Nina, I was a bit shocked and I was trying to hold Nina’s hand down, but she put her hand up herself.’

“I didn’t really get an explanation [at the time]. It was just come back to the center of the ring and then start announcing the scores again.”

Unsurprisingly, Hughes and her team were less than thrilled with how the events of Saturday played out, and are already asking for a rematch. Though Hughes doesn’t bear any ill will towards Johnson, she believes she deserves the chance to regain her title.

Johnson isn’t sure what her next move will be, but if she steps into the ring with Hughes again, she’ll make sure there’s no chance for any scorecard confusion.

“I’ve seen brief parts of it,” Johnson said, when asked about Hughes and her team’s post-fight comments. “I try not to look into things too much. I was confident that I had won the fight. I’ve got the decision, I am the champ at the moment. Obviously, if I was to look in to their side, it would be quite frustrating also.”

“Whatever my team wants to do, we haven’t really discussed that as of yet,” Johnson said of a rematch. “But yeah, I definitely felt like it was one-sided, and to be honest, it probably wasn’t my best performance at this new style we sort of have. So if it was to happen again, it’s not going the distance.”

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