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September 09, 2017

By Scott Shaffer

According to ESPN, the State of New York has agreed to pay $22 million to Magomed Abdusalamov to settle a lawsuit against the state athletic commission.  Abdusalomov suffered severe brain injuries in a 2013 heavyweight bout against Mike Perez left him paralyzed and unable to speak.  The New York Commission did not require him to go to the hospital despite the brutal nature of the fight, and Abdusalamov was forced to hail a taxi on the street rather than travel by the ambulance that was on hand. It is not known whether his injuries could have been prevented or lessened had he been sent directly to the hospital.

Abdusalamov has a wife and four young children. ESPN quoted the boxer's wife, Bakany, as saying, "I would trade all of the money to just bring back Mago as he was but that's not how it works, it cannot buy the happiness we had."

The following summary of Abdusalamov's sad situation is taken from a New York State Inspector General's Report issued in 2016:

On November 2, 2013, heavyweight boxer Magomed Abdusalamov sustained a brain injury during a ten-round boxing match against Mike Perez at Madison Square Garden in New York City.  In the 
aftermath of the fight, the Inspector General initiated an investigation into the circumstances surrounding Abdusalamov’s injury.  
The Inspector General found that many Athletic Commission practices, policies and procedures were either nonexistent or deficient, specifically those relating to post-bout medical care, tactical emergency plans and communication, and training.  The Inspector General also found a lack of appropriate engagement and oversight by Athletic Commission commissioners and its chairperson as well as potential violations of New York Public Officers Law by current and former chairs of the Athletic Commission.

In between rounds during the fight, Abdusalamov observed himself on the big screen television monitor near the ring and touched his face.  A review of video and audio from this time reflects a conversation partially in Russian and partially in English. Abdusalamov’s brother asked, in Russian, “What’s up? The boxer responded in Russian that he thought his cheek was broken, and asked if it was.  The translator and Abdusalamov’s brother both responded in Russian that it was not broken, only swollen.  

When trainer John David Jackson asked in English what they were saying, the translator responded in English, “He thinks it’s broken...”

According to the translator for HBO, during another break between rounds, Abdusalamov asked, “Did he break my nose?  It looks like I broke my nose.  Look at it.”  

As the match progressed, and the fighters continued trading heavy punches to each other’s body and face, Abdusalamov’s face began to swell.  From unedited audio and video recordings, it appears that the swelling bothered him after the sixth round, as he used an expletive and asked, in Russian, if his face was swollen.  His brother responded in Russian, “Yeah, it is swollen.” From the audio, it does not appear that the boxer's translator translated this brief dialogue for the commission inspector, Matthew Farrago. Abdusalamov’s brother continued to provide coaching advice, in Russian, saying to use short punches.  

After the seventh round, a laceration became visible over Abdusalamov’s left eye, to which the cut man attended between rounds.  At the beginning of the eighth round, an HBO announcer noted that two ringside physicians had gone to Abdusalamov’s corner after the seventh round and “watched carefully 
throughout the entire between-round period.  They have decided to allow him to come back out in round eight.”
During the ninth round, an HBO commentator noted that Abdusalamov “appear[ed] to have something broken in his face, whether it’s the orbital bone, the cheek bone, or the jaw.”

According to Chief Medical Officer Barry Jordan, at his direction, a ringside physician examined Abdusalamov from the side of the ring after that round.  Video and audio show that King stood 
to the left of Abdusalamov on the apron. HBO video footage from the break between the seventh and eighth rounds is a close-up image of Abdusalamov.  It was not possible to view others surrounding him at the time.  Other than the physician assigned to Abdusalamov’s corner, it is not clear which physician the HBO announcers might have seen, if any.  

During the tenth and final round, Perez landed a number of hard shots.  Abdusalamov landed a number of punches, too, one of which resulted in a laceration near Perez’s right eye in the last 30 seconds of the match.  Abdusalamov generally kept his hands up to defend himself throughout the round, and continued moving about the ring.  Abdusalamov fought strongly until the end of the fight, making contact with a hook and left punch combination with a few seconds remaining in the match.  

A ringside physician testified that he examined Abdusalamov more than once while the boxer was in the ring, but was not sure in which rounds those examinations took place, or how many times.  According to testimony from all four members of Abdusalamov’s team, at no point during the ten-round bout did anyone suggest stopping the fight. 
The investigation revealed that Abdusalamov left the arena after the bout on his own accord at approximately 11:50 p.m.  Just outside the arena, however, Abdusalamov vomited.  When Abdusalamov became ill, his manager found Abdusalamov’s promoter and together they informed Athletic Commission Chairperson Melvina Lathan that Abdusalamov needed to be taken to a hospital.  Lathan directed them to Chief Medical Officer Barry Jordan.  In sworn testimony before the Inspector General, Jordan stated that no one impressed upon him that it was an emergency, and he believed Abdusalamov was going to the hospital to have his facial injuries examined.  Jordan testified that he advised them to take Abdusalamov to Roosevelt Hospital. 

Although there were ambulances at Madison Square Garden available to transport Abdusalamov to the hospital at that time, the Inspector General found that the Athletic Commission lacked a formal tactical emergency plan. Consequently, Athletic Commission staff, the boxers, and their teams were unaware of what steps to take in the event of an emergency after a post-bout examination and in the absence of a physician.

As a result, Abdusalamov’s team lacked any knowledge of the availability of ambulances outside the arena.  Instead, he traveled by taxi cab to Roosevelt Hospital. He arrived at the hospital within approximately 15 minutes of leaving Madison Square Garden.

At the hospital, Abdusalamov was diagnosed with a subdural hematoma-- a bleed in his brain.  Physicians performed emergency surgery and placed him in an induced coma.  

Abdusalamov remained in a coma at Roosevelt Hospital until mid-December, when he was taken out of the coma, and transferred to a rehabilitation facility at the end of that month.  In September 2014, he was discharged from the rehabilitation facility and returned home. 

The Inspector General found that the Athletic Commission failed to carry out its responsibilities prior to, during, and after the bout.

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