Lose Today, Fight Tomorrow


In the wake of his all action losing effort against Cuban standout Mike Perez, it was initially reported that Magomed Abdusalamov suffered a broken hand, a broken nose, and a blood clot on his brain. Since then, Abdusalamov’s condition has drastically deteriorated. On Sunday he was placed in a medically induced coma, and has since suffered a stroke and is on life support. His once promising career is now over, and his quality of life and future are now at risk. This occurred during a fight in which he made $40,000, and no titles were on the line. HBO commentators Jim Lampley, Roy Jones jr, and Max Kellerman, rightfully praised the courage and heart of both men involved. Fans around the world watching would have no doubt cheered on the spectacle and been in awe of what they were witnessing. Although, none of those who enjoyed the action Saturday night will spend their time nursing Abdusalamov back to health or paying his abundant medical bills.

Abdusalamov’s corner is the most to blame for the beating which he suffered, as they failed to do their most important job; protecting the health of their fighter. John David Jackson, whom I have always admired, dropped the ball this weekend, and it cost Abdusalamov a lot more than just a loss on his record. Abdusalamov did what he was supposed to do; he gave the fight his all, and gave no quarter. Unfortunately for him there was nobody sensible enough in his corner to suggest stopping the fight. Ridiculously enough, nobody ever even asked Abdusalamov if he was OK, even though he gave many clear indications that he was anything but. He complained nearly every round about his nose, and his cheek, things that are very out of character for a prizefighter. Had the fight been stopped, maybe he would have the chance to come back a try another day, but the shortsightedness of his corner has guaranteed that will not be the case.

This constantly reoccurring issue needs further examination, and is a much bigger case for a worldwide boxing commission than any fraudulent claims or robbery cries. These are lives which are on the line, families which are torn apart over something as meaningless as a single fight.  In a sport which praises reckless and dangerous fighting styles and criticizes those who fight safely and smartly it is no doubt that this continues to be an issue. Guillermo Rigondeaux was barred from the HBO network for having the audacity, to boxing intelligently and protect himself at all times. While Timothy Bradley could only get off their shit-list by allowing Ruslan Provodnikov to batter his brains in for twelve straight rounds. Referees like Steve Smoger are applauded for letting a fight go on long past the point of reason, while referees who stop a fight a second too soon are thrown to the wolves and accused of robbing a fighter. Athletically limited warriors like Arturo Gatti and Mickey Ward are made immortal for beating the hell out of each other, while technicians like Pernell Whitaker are dismissed as boring and dis-interesting.

I’m not trying to say that it is morally wrong to enjoy a brawl, or that every fighter should employ a safety first style. Nor am I suggesting that there is any way to take the danger out of boxing. Abdusalamov knew what he signed up for, a fight; which win or lose, may take more from him than it returns. Although with that being said, I would have much rather seen a few less action rounds, and instead seen Abdusalamov live to fight again.

4 thoughts on “Lose Today, Fight Tomorrow

  1. Nice to see that even though you have a passion for the sport, you are able to step away and see the reality of things. Lovely article Don.

  2. Very, very sad. I remember Mago looking to his cornermen at the end of the first round, saying I think my nose is broken and rubbing the left side of his face, saying something is broken. You could tell there was a real inquisitive look of concern in his eyes. He knew something wasn’t right. Unbelievably, though, Mago’s family was in his corner as well. His father was right there. I am sure a brother was there. It is understandable how a trainer would overlook some of the damage that was inflicted. After all, for the most part, it is all about the money for them. The inexcusable part, in my mind, is the ego of the father and the family allowed this fight to continue, despite the clear indications something was wrong. This father and brother wanted to show how tough their boy was, how he would walk through fire, eat nails, etc. to get to where he wanted to go, the top of the world of boxing.

    I understand it is so easy to look back and question a decision when something as tragic as this has occurred but when watching that fight I knew Mago had the heart of a lion, in large measure I am sure because he trusted his corner, his family. He knew they were looking out for him. But they weren’t. They were more concerned about how tough their boys was in the eyes of boxing fans.

    I can imagine how crazed the father must be and the brother must be now in retrospect, looking back, to think they let him continue despite clear signs that he was very hurt. But I tell you, Smoger did not do his job either. If the corner is going to let their fighter be a warrior to the death, if necessary, the ref and the boxing body needs to do their job, there needs to be some reason that prevails in situations like this.

    I hope to god Mago recovers from this. He deserved better.

    • He may live, but his life is basically ruined. He has suffered a stroke and been in a coma for a while now. He will almost certainly have serious brain damage.

      Very bad look for boxing. If it had been a massive fight and was more competitive, then it would have made more sense. This was a under-card heavyweight fight, with very little on the line. Also Mago was not even in the fight. It should have been stopped around the 4th or 5th round. Although, it is unclear when the worst of the damage occurred.

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