Ramabeletsa calls for justice after Kennedy controversy "I beat and hurt him badly"
By Michael J Jones
SATURDAY NIGHT AT York Hall, Folkestone prospect Josh Kennedy faced durable Michael Ramabeletsa for the vacant English super-bantamweight title on a stacked Goodwin show. At 8-0, ten years younger at 25 and coming off an impressive knock-out of Jamie Speight, there was no question the well-supported Kennedy was the pre-fight favourite but the fight didn't quite go to plan for the Kent puncher.
At the end of ten thrilling rounds, Kennedy sent his many supporters happy when collecting a split decision by scores of 96-94, 95-94 while the third judge Lee Cook scored for Ramabeletsa by 96-93. Just two days after the contest, Mike Ramabeletsa contacted Livefight.com to talk about the fight and his disbelief at the decision rendered by two of the three scoring judges.
The Preston-based South African is no stranger to having the spoils go against him but openly calls Saturday's outcome the worst of his entire 31 bout career. He now demands a rematch or for Kennedy to vacate the English belt to enable “The Trouble Maker” to contest it once again in the near future.
“It's the name of the sport unfortunately, these bad decisions, but I feel Saturday's decision was very unfair” Ramabeletsa tells Livefight earlier this week. “I knew the fight would be easy as Kennedy had no experience and, unlike me, had never fought anyone. I felt before the fight he thought he was facing a journeyman or something but I showed what I could do.”
Livefight has not been able to watch the fight in full but the 35 year old is positive he did more than enough to register a resounding victory. Livefight asks why he feels so sure he did enough?
“In the fight, I found it easy to do exactly what I wanted to do while he struggled and couldn't do what he had planned. I should have won the fight clearly on the score-cards even without me knocking him down in the seventh round.”
Livefight has seen footage of the knock-down via mobile footage posted online. A big over-hand right lands but Kennedy walks onto another moments later. He backs into a corner but takes three more head shots to send him down on his knees.
“I hurt him very badly. They think I don't have power (only six knock-outs in 31 contests to date) but I can hit very hard. He was tiring...I knew my experience and skills were vastly superior to his and it told in the fight. I also dropped him in the ninth with a body-shot but the ref just helped him up without a count and then said I had been holding.”
“By then he was just trying to survive and nothing else. I don't know what else I could have done in the fight. It won't get posted onto YouTube as they'll want to protect (his reputation) but if it does everyone will be able to see what happened.”
“He's not a bad kid, he admitted I'd shocked him and there was no ill-feeling after the fight, I don't dislike Josh Kennedy but I just want what is mine. That English title is mine not his. He should give me a rematch if he is a proud man and, if not, vacate the title and let me fight and win it again.”
“I beat Kennedy so he doesn't deserve that title. No bad blood between us but he knows he lost.”
Kennedy sold nearly 300 tickets ahead of his English title bout and was noisily supported by his fans throughout the ten rounds. Having the crowd behind you can sometimes make a huge difference to judges' scores as a rapturous crowd will scream for any modicum of success while often staying silent when the opponent lands better.
Ramabeletsa had this to say about Kennedy's supporters...
“He had many supporters and they tried desperately to lift him when he was losing but that just meant all the pressure was on him. They lifted him a little but overall didn't help him and they even ended up being on my side when the decision went the wrong way.”
“After the fight had ended, many, many of his fans came up to me and said it was a terrible decision and that I should have won by three or four points at least. Many others have since been messaging me, people I have never met and don't know, saying it was a scandalous decision and that I deserve an immediate rematch. Nobody I have spoken to since the fight even said it was close. I should have not only have won but won clearly.”
The plucky South African had his first nine fights in SA before moving to the UK in 2011. He has mostly been thrown to the wolves in his British campaign often only getting fights at late notice against men often in their own backyards. Now 15-16 (6), the youthful puncher has shown grit to keep his career alive with several upsets along the way.
With no favours or “home-cooking” being offered to him, he has beaten men of the calibre of Ross Burkinshaw, Ash Lane and Paul Economides, all who went onto to lift major titles after suffering defeat to Ramabeletsa. The SA veteran was also riding a three-fight winning streak entering Saturday's title fight.
“I've been robbed so many times man but this fight honestly was the worst one in my whole career. You expect no favours but this was just another level.”
Ramabeletsa isn't angry during our chat, he isn't spewing insults or trash talking about Josh Kennedy. He simply wants justice after giving his all in a fight and coming away with nothing bar another notch in the loss column.
The Oliver Harrison-trained “Trouble Maker” is now 35-years-old but looks no older than a teenager. It may be with his conditioning, confidence plus access to the fountain of youth, Ramabeletsa could some day be the UK's answer to American legend Bernard Hopkins.
“Ha ha yeah maybe. You know I really look after myself, I live good; no drinking, partying. I'm a family man. I want to achieve everything I can and I know what I can do. Before this fight I said to Josh Kennedy 'you're talking a lot but I'm going to show you why nobody wants to fight me' and I did.”
Livefight would like to reiterate we have not seen the fight and all the above opinions were from Michael Ramabeletsa alone. If Josh Kennedy would like to give his opinion or if anyone can supply good footage of the fight for us to score independantly please get in touch.
Fight pic credit Simon Downing.