When Russia's Denis Lebedev lost his cruiserweight title to Guillermo Jones of Panama by 11th-round knockout on May 17 in Moscow, so ended one of the year's most violent fights. Anyone who saw it won't soon forget how badly Lebedev's face was disfigured because of the horrific swelling around his right eye and the right side of his face.
The beating he took was so bad that it landed him in the hospital for five days, Vladimir Hryunov, Lebedev's promoter, told ESPN.com.
"Dennis [has now] moved back to his home," Hryunov said. "He stayed in the hospital five days."
As bad as he looked -- and it was as bad as anything I have ever seen in a boxing ring -- Hryunov said that Lebedev's eye will be OK.
Lebedev's face was virtually unrecognizable after he was cut over his right eye in the first round and the 41-year-old Jones (39-3-2, 31 KOs) then rearranged it by pounding on it for another 10 rounds.
The fight was highly competitive despite the injury. But by the time Lebedev (25-2, 19 KOs) went down in the 11th round -- after getting cracked with a punch he never saw because he had no vision in his right eye -- his face was a complete wreck. In particular, that right eye was gruesome. There were cuts all around, it was bleeding, and the massive swelling had closed it.
The fight should have been stopped several rounds before the knockout, but the ringside doctor allowed the fight to continue despite how terrible the injury became, while referee Stanley Christodoulou seemed to not acknowledge the injury's existence. And Lebedev's trainer, Kostya Tszyu, let the fight go on for some reason, but his fighter wound up getting stopped anyway.
Lebedev's bravery and heart hasn't gone unnoticed, Hryunov said. He said there has been an outpouring of calls and mail.
"He is a real hero in our country," Hryunov said. "Right now he is home with his family."
Lebedev, 33, will take a long rest, and Hryunov said he expects the fighter will be back in the ring eventually. It's hard to see Lebedev ever being the same. Still, it is good to hear from Hryunov that there doesn't appear to be any permanent damage.