The Puerto Rican professional lightweight boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez (El Diamante – the Diamond) has flown back to his home country a very unhappy man. His mood was brought on by the technical knockout (TKO) decision that meant he suffered the first defeat of his professional career in the recent bout staged at The Theatre, Madison Square Garden.
It was the Puerto Rican’s first fight following a 13-month absence from the sport. Unfortunately for him, his undefeated run which included 15 knockouts, came to an end in the 10th round shortly after his opponent, the Mexican, Antonio Lozada Jnr, dropped him to the canvas. When he struggled up, his opponent laid into him with a fusillade of punches.
It was enough for the New York State Commission attending physician to instruct the referee, Eddie Claudio, to bring the bout to a premature end, just 23 seconds from the final bell.
Sad news about David Wittom
The decision came just after news had been released that Canadian light heavyweight, David Wittom, had passed away, having been put into an induced coma following an injury sustained in a bout against Gary Kopas 10-months ago.
Wittom sustained a cerebral haemorrhage due to blows landed on him during the fight; a fight that like the Verdejo/Lozado affair, also ended in a TKO in the 10th round. The Canadian was hospitalised and he underwent an operation to remove a small section of his skull to make room for his swelling brain. Unfortunately he never woke up.
Other fatalities in British boxing
This sort of injury is of course not new to the sport. But, it doesn’t always result in fatality. Only 2-years ago, British middleweight boxer, Nick Blackwell, also suffered a brain bleed in a bout against Chris Eubank Jnr. He too was put into an induced coma,but in this instance he fully recovered.
However, another fatality was realised earlier this year when British born Scott Westgarth died from a bleed on the brain following a brutal boxing contest against fellow Brit Dec Spelman. After the bout, Westgarth managed to give a post-bout interview, but was then rushed to hospital where he died later on.
It’s all too easy for serious head injuries to take place in boxing, but all fighters and most fight fans take it philosophically, despite that fact that there have been three deaths in British boxing since 2013.
Full fighting fitness is essential
When a boxer gets injured and that injury causes him (or her) to lose mobility and become more of a target, as in the fight between David Haye and Tony Bellew, when Haye sustained an Achilles tendon injury, the likelihood of head injuries heightens. Luckily there were no fatalities in that first bout, and for the second fight scheduled in May this year. It is hoped that both boxers will be at their fittest.
Prevention is better than cure
Coming back to the Verdejo/Rosado fight, the reason that the Puerto Rican was angry came from the fact that at the time, he was not told why the fight had been stopped.
He thought it may have been due to the fact that he was not throwing many punches during that last round. However, he said that he felt fine and was just biding his time waiting for the fight to finis;, believing that he was in front (a view confirmed by the scorecards) when the bout was stopped.
But in hindsight, he now understands the possible concern that officials may have had, and puts the experience down to the old adage of prevention being better than cure coming to the fore.