Heavyweight prospect Magomed Abdusalmov is in a New York City hospital, in stable condition after being placed into an induced coma following a unanimous decision loss to Mike Perez at the Madison Square Garden Theater on Saturday night.
The 32-year-old Russian-born boxer, who lives in Florida, absorbed heavy fire from his Cuban-born foe on the undercard of Saturday's card headlined by the Gennady Golovkin-Curtis Stevens middleweight title bout.
The news leaves fight game followers a bit stunned and more than a bit saddened, coming so close on the heels of the death of Mexican boxer Frankie Leal. Leal, 26, died from a brain injury three days after his Oct. 19 bout against Raul Hirales in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.
About 30 minutes after Saturday's main event concluded, Abdusalmov informed manager Boris Grinberg that he had a headache, according to Nathan Lewkowicz, who is the son of the downed fighters' promoter, Sampson Lewkowicz.
Abdusalamov, who entered the bout with an 18-0 record, with 18 KOs, said that he hurt his left hand in the second round of the fight and wasn't able to make a proper fist after that. His nose was also broken during the encounter, he believed. So, Lewkowicz told ESPNNewYork.com, Abdusalamov was going to be taken to a hospital for an assessment even before he told Grinberg that his head ached.
Grinberg said in a phone call that he didn't want to discuss the situation extensively, indicating that a press release would go out on Monday to shed more light on the matter. He was optimistic, he said, that the boxer will recover.
ESPNNewYork.com reached out to the New York State Athletic Commission and left a message for Abdusalamov's trainer, John David Jackson, requesting comment. We received a statement from the NYSAC on Monday: "NYSAC’s primary concern is the health and safety of its licensed athletes. As we do in all such cases, NYSAC is reviewing the circumstances surrounding Mr. Abdusalamov’s injuries. We are hopeful he makes a complete and speedy recovery."
The 28-year-old Perez (20-0, 12 KOs), who lives in Ireland, fought with strength and stamina, and had Abdusalamov backing up for much of the 10-round scrap. The two lefties exchanged heavy blows, with the Cuban's power shots causing swelling around Abdusalamov's left cheek from early on.
From my ringside seat, nothing seemed out of the ordinary in the bout. Yes, Perez was getting the better of exchanges, and Abdusalamov appeared to be behind and in need of a KO, perhaps, to win. But one judge, John Stewart, had Perez a winner by the slimmest of margins, 95-94, while the other two, Julie Lederman and Don Trella, had it wider, 97-92. To my eyes, the bout didn't look one-sided in the least, and even in hindsight, I can't say that it struck me that Abdusalamov was in any clear and apparent danger.
To a man, and woman, every fighter I speak to about the subject tells me they understand the risks associated with taking part in a prizefight, and although they don't generally like to dwell on the potential catastrophe that could occur, all comprehend that the price they pay for entry could be immense. It's fair to say that all involved in the sport have Abdusalamov on their minds on this evening, and are pulling for the man to pull through and bounce back.