THE way it works these days is like this: someone messes up, the world jumps on the mistake in order for the mistake to go viral, the person apologises, the person suffers, and then, once the person reveals the extent of this suffering, everybody backtracks and tries to achieve the same traction with their apology as they did with their initial criticism and cruelty.

This is something we see online every day, sadly, but it is especially fascinating to observe when it happens in a sport like boxing, hardly a beacon of either compassion or competence. Indeed, that anyone in the sport should be held to any sort of standard is amusing enough, yet for a mere master of ceremonies to be vilified for reading out something wrong only serves to highlight the dangers of people jumping on bandwagons and trying to react to every single thing that happens in the world.

That is not to say that Lt. Dan Hennessey’s faux pas last weekend is easy to forget; the truth is, it isn’t. But in a sport rife with problems far bigger than an MC calling out the wrong winner, you do wonder why the performative outrage was so great in the aftermath. Was it really because so many people cared about the disappointment of Nina Hughes, the woman wrongly announced as the winner following her fight with Cherneka Johnson? Or was it more because a clip of personal embarrassment guarantees a lot of views online and because there are never enough ways to tell the world a man is awful at his job?

Either way, Hennessey, as a result of the subsequent furore, has decided to call it quits on his 18-year career as an MC. In a post on social media, he said his final fight night will happen in New Plymouth and after that he is done.

“I love all the support from everyone,” said Hennessey. “Thank you all for the kind words. Unfortunately, the worldwide backlash is absolutely incredible and it’s effecting [affecting] my mental health to a degree where I will have one more show. I am doing this show because I am still a man of my word and promised Sam Rapira (the promoter) that I would do it because he is a great mate and I refuse to leave him hanging.

“I love and will keep in touch with all my friends from around the world. Thank you. No longer the world’s punching bag. I’m out.”

In the grand scheme of things, it seems ridiculous; both the initial reaction and Hennessy’s decision to call it quits. However, that’s the problem with viral incidents: everything is exaggerated and blown out of all proportion to enable the virus to spread.

The reality is, yes, it was a bad mistake. On May 12 in Perth, Australia, a pumped-up Hennessey declared Nina Hughes the winner before retracting this statement and giving the win to Cherneka Johnson instead. This led to a jarring shift in emotions for both Hughes and Johnson and the speed with which Hennessey had corrected his mistake only added to both the whiplash and the feeling that this was to become, for those that way inclined, a chunk of comedy gold.

“I own it,” said Hennessey in the immediate aftermath. “It’s all on me. I take full responsibility. I have apologized to all involved and now I apologize to you. I am sorry for what happened. Again, I own it and can only try and do better next time. Not my best day in the office. I guess all the shitty comments on socials I have coming. Again I am crushed and sorry for my shitstorm of a performance. You all deserved better. Sorry again.”

Cherneka Johnson attacks Nina Hughes

For perspective, Hennessey is not alone when it comes to making mistakes in a boxing arena or, if just for one night, being considered bad at his job. Frankly, were it not for the ability we all have to now capture human beings at their lowest ebb and create from this snapshot widespread attention for ourselves, a mistake like Hennessey’s would be largely ignored, forgotten. If, for example, his gaffe had predated social media, all Hennessey would have received were some boos from the crowd in the venue, some scowls from the men and women in the ring, and maybe some sort of admonishment from those responsible for appointing him in the aftermath. That would be it. There would be no prolonging of this humiliation and certainly no attempt to make Hennessey infamous on account of him doing something he regrets. There would, in other words, be both room and permission to forget. There would be another fight, and another one after that.

Hennessey, no stranger to this world, has no doubt felt the change. Hired by Sky TV as a commentator in 2003, the former US Marine focused at the start mainly on basketball, covering the New Zealand National Basketball League (NZNBL) and becoming head commentator for the FIBA Under 19’s world championship in 2012.

As for combat sports, Hennessey, who moved to New Zealand in 1998 to become a DJ, was introduced to those in 2006 when announcing the World Grand Prix K1 in New Zealand. He would later announce David Tua vs. Shane Cameron on a Duco Events promotion in 2009, as well as do Tua’s last four fights and many of Joseph Parker’s.

The suggestion now is that Hennessey, despite all this experience, is bad at his job, a belief of many people working within the sport. Yet, if in need of it, Lieutenant Dan can always take comfort from the fact that many of those same people who criticised him for being bad at his job will be in Saudi Arabia this week reporting on John Fury headbutting a Ukrainian as if it matters and then reporting on a heavyweight boxing match as though the heavyweight boxing match is the only thing worth reporting on during their time in the Middle East. These people we call journalists, by the way. Or pundits. Or commentators. To report and provide insight is their job. Their one job. Their duty. Their responsibility.

Which is to say, perhaps the only difference between them and Dan Hennessey is this: they are the ones recording the mistakes and misery of other people, therefore the super spreaders, and Dan Hennessey is other people.