ESPN Boxing commentator apologizes for unknowingly joking about boxer’s tragic death

Simiso Buthelezi, a 24-year-old South African boxer, died earlier this week. He is suspected to have gone into the boxing bout with a pre existing brain bleed.  When the symptoms became apparent, he was actually winning a decision over Siphesihle Mntungwa.

On social media, a disturbing video of Buthelezi’s match ending emerged. The video showed him walking away from his opponent and towards the referee. Simiso was throwing punches in the corner until the fight was halted.

On Saturday’s Top Rank on ESPN show, it was clear that the commentary duo, Joe Tessitore and Timothy Bradley, were clueless about the entire incident.

Roamer Alexis Angulo had twice accidentally gone to a neutral corner instead of his own corner between rounds in the Top Rank main event. He even nearly walked into opponent Edgar Berlanga’s corner on one of those instances.

Alexis didn’t seem to be wounded. However, lead announcer Tessitore made light of the situation. Bradley then talked about the video of Buthelezi’s closing minutes, which regrettably proved to be his last.

“I’ve seen worse. There’s a video circulating right now where a guy actually knocked another guy out of the ring,” Bradley said.

“He got back in the ring and the other guy actually started boxing a ghost in the corner.”

Bradley concluded by saying “I’m serious.” after Tessitore laughed. “He was boxing somebody in the corner when the ref said ‘box.’ I’m telling you.”

Many viewers had already expressed their displeasure with the disrespectful language by this time. Bradley apologized two rounds later.

“I want to take the time out right now and apologize for that last statement that I made about that guy that was actually punching someone in the corner. He actually passed away a few days ago.”

Bradley continued “I had no clue that he passed away, and I just want to give my utmost apologies to his family and to his loved ones.”

“I was unaware of the video you were referencing,” Tessitore responded.

“I know you were just telling the story, but there was the news this week that Simiso Buthelezi passed away in South Africa after a fight.”

“Obviously our thoughts, as is always the case with this sport, are very aware of the dangers that can come from it — the risks that all fighters take. Timmy we appreciate you apologizing.”