Johannesburg - Without as much as entering the ring, up-and-coming South African contender Thabiso Mchunu received a jarring blow in his bid to secure a shot at the WBC cruiserweight title over the weekend.
Mchunu's title hopes were pegged back as a result of the crushing defeat suffered by WBC champion Krzysztof Wlodarezyk at the hands of Grigory Drozd in a one-sided bout in Moscow.
The judges gave the verdict in favour of the new Russian champion by overwhelming 119-108, 119-108 and 118-109 margins to effectively torpedo the proposed title fight between number two contender, Mchunu, and the deposed Wlodarezyk.
"This is a disappointing double blow," said local Showpony promoter Damian Michael, who handles Mchunu's affairs.
"Not only were negotiations already in the pipeline for a fight against Wlodarezyk, but we had studied the Polish boxer and were pretty confident Thabiso would have had his measure.
"Now it's a case of starting all over to secure a title fight with Drozd and that is not going to be easy for more than one reason."
After comfortably securing the third successive win of his United States campaign against the durable, experienced Garrett Wilson earlier in the month, Mchunu had placed himself in line to challenge for one of the diverse world cruiserweight titles.
"Any of the titles will do," said the boxer who is known as The Rock.
"It doesn't matter whether it's for the WBC, the WBA, the IBF or the WBO title.
"But as the number two WBC contender, that is the one I was expecting to materialise. Now I'm just raring for a shot at any one of the champions."
Mchunu is rated among the top 10 cruiserweights by three of the four top-recognised organisations.
But in champions Drozd, Marco Huck, Dennis Lebeder and Yoen Pablo Hernandez, the eager Mchunu would find himself facing an opponent in a different class to the outclassed Wilson.
It was The Rock's seventh successive victory and extended his career record to 17 wins and only one defeat.
Mchunu has not lost a fight since he suffered a technical knockout (TKO) loss against Zack Mwekassa three years ago, going from strength-to-strength after annihilating all opposition in Golden Gloves' "Super Eight" tournament at Emperors Palace two years ago.
He went on to outclass former heavyweight contender "Fast Eddie" Chambers and the KwaZulu-Natal born fighter believes he made the right move to continue his career in the United States.
"This where it is all happening," he says. "I've had three fights in the space of 11 months or so in the States.
"If you provide the goods, you get recognised here. In South Africa even the top fighters often struggle to be appreciated and are frustrated by having to sit on the sidelines, with action that goes no further than the gym."