By Frank Warren
The commotion regarding Spurs Goalkeeper Hugo Lloris’ return to the pitch after suffering concussion last weekend again highlighted how well British boxing is regulated in comparison to some other sports in relation to head injuries.
The Tottenham shot-stopper was temporarily unconscious after colliding with and being struck on the temple by the knee of Everton striker Romelu Lukaku during a Premier League clash at Goodison Park on Sunday. However, after a brief and cursory ‘on field’ assessment by the Spurs club doctors, the French captain insisted on being allowed to complete the remaining 12 minutes of the match, seemingly against the advice of his medical team and teammates.
It is irrelevant that Lloris insisted on finishing the game. Sometimes athletes at all levels, boxers included, require protecting from their own extraordinary valour. Such instances are not about being ‘brave’ or showing ‘character’ they are about personal safety. The shambles that appeared to see the player, medical staff and management all having conflicting opinions on whether he should continue or not was extraordinary viewing and I wonder why no decision was made by the Referee or Manager, who’s ultimate responsibility is surely, as in boxing, to protect the safety of the participant and with a top class keep in Brad Friedel ready and waiting to come on. I wonder what the referee’s reasons were for not intervening when clearly the manager was happy with the substitution and Lloris was clearly in a dazed state.
In boxing we know that if a bleed to the brain has occurred, following a trauma, then lost minutes are vital and could save a life. Thankfully in this instance this was not the case but had the worst case scenario occurred then those additional 12 minutes plus any injury time could have had fatal consequences.
Understandably, players’ unions were outraged by the gamble that was taken with Lloris’ health. Similarly, brain injury charity ‘Headway’ criticised the club’s ‘cavalier attitude’ and slated the decision to allow him to resume duty between the sticks as ‘irresponsible’. Quite right too.
Imagine now, if a boxer was knocked out or badly stopped from blows to the head then, within ten minutes, was tossed back into the ring to risk enduring further punishment. Abolitionists would have a field day. But it would never happen. The Lloris episode simply reinforces how fantastically well boxing safeguards its participants.
Any British fighter defeated inside schedule as a result of punches to the head would incur a mandatory minimum 28-45 day suspension. Our referees are schooled to always err on the side of caution and, regarding medical safeguards, our Board of Control has long been regarded as the undisputed champions.
That said, no one would contest that boxing is an inherently dangerous sport and we must never allow ourselves to become complacent.
This was brought home again last weekend when feted Russian heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov underwent surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain following a slugfest with former world junior world champion Mike Perez of Cuba at Madison Square Garden’s Theatre in New York.
Both entered the ring undefeated – Abdusalamov had knocked-out all 18 previous opponents – and they delivered one of the best heavyweight bang-ups of recent years. Alas, it came at a huge cost.
Afterwards the Russian – defeated on points – visited Roosevelt Hospital in Manhattan seeking attention for suspected fractures to his nose and hand. However, he began to complain of headaches and an examination led to an emergency operation.
Initially, ‘Mago’s’ condition was deemed stable but he later suffered a severe stroke whilst in an induced coma to relieve the swelling.
As I write, the 32 year old father of three remains on the ‘critical’ list and now faces the biggest fight of his life. Everyone in boxings’ thoughts and prayers go out to him and his family that he comes through this horrific ordeal.
Thankfully, Spurs Goalkeeper was not in a similar situation last weekend but maybe this is a lesson learned.
George Groves always looked to be facing an uphill battle when it was announced that he would challenge Carl Froch for his WBA and IBF super-middleweight straps. However, the task appears to magnify as each week passes.
Firstly, ‘The Saint’ appointed unheralded trainer/second Paddy Fitzpatrick to oversee his preparation and strategy. Then last Tuesday, with the toughest test of his career just 18 days away, the kid from Hammersmith chose to cut training to attend a Board of Control complaint hearing to determine whether estranged manager-trainer Adam Booth should receive his 25% entitlement of Groves’ estimated £500,000 purse. A judgement should be announced this week and I’d be surprised if Booth doesn’t emerge the victor in that one.
However, the Board did decree that Liverpool super-featherweight Stephen Smith is presently suspended for flouting the Board’s rules and regulations following his contractual dispute with myself. He has also strangely chosen to vacate his hard won British title, due to I can only assume crazy advice from inexperienced people.
It’s a great shame that like Jamie McDonnell who was relieved of his IBF World title after also listening to poor advice recently that Stephen has chosen to damage his families’ achievement of having three brothers holding British titles simultaneously, by tossing away the title he won so emphatically in Cardiff in August.
It is no coincidence that Promoter Eddie Hearn faces a growing number of formal complaints about his conduct and the Board of Control have written to him warning him against interfering with their Boxer/Manager Agreements. To their credit the Board has vowed to investigate and take action against anyone involved.
California’s Miguel Angel Garcia is a prize-fighter storming up the sport’s ‘pound-for-pound’ rankings.
Formerly a custodian of the IBF featherweight crown, the 25 year old from a famous fighting family attempts to wrench a second world title belt in Texas this evening when he squares off with WBO super-feather kingpin Roman ‘Rocky’ Martinez of Puerto Rico. BoxNation televise live in the UK.
As 27 stoppage victories in 32 consecutive pro wins testify, ‘Mikey’ is a precise and clinical executioner but he is also blessed with an abundance of class and a calm head.
Diehard British fans will be familiar with champion Martinez who outclassed and stopped quality operator Nicky Cook and was then narrowly edged out by Ricky Burns in a couple of belters on my promotions a few years back.
He is the naturally bigger man, possesses an iron jaw and is routinely involved in thrilling slugfests. In a 12 year, 30 fight pro career, only Burns has managed to master him, albeit after an early knockdown.
Yet it is testament to Garcia’s potential that the challenger enters as an 11-2 underdog. Martinez has never been the hardest to clip and his come forward style should be perfectly tailored for Garcia’s vicious counters.
The Mexican descendant promises to be an even more formidable beast now he no longer needs to cut weight. I expect him to prevail by late stoppage in what promises to be a real humdinger.
British fight fans presently enjoy greater live access to the top action from overseas than at any time in the sport’s history.
In addition to Martinez-Garcia and Manny Pacquiao’s eagerly anticipated comeback bash against Brandon Rios in a fortnight, this week the Channel of Champions were able to confirm they’d secured live UK rights to a fiesta of world championship action featuring some of the globe’s premier talent over the coming six weeks.
Next weekend, BoxNation delivers Carl Froch conqueror and easily the planets best man at 12 stone, Andre Ward’s return to the ring when he puts his WBA super-middle title at stake against undefeated Dominican banger Edwin ‘La Bomba’ Rodriguez.
Then in successive Saturday’s in December, fans get to feast on the grudge match between Brooklyn welters Paulie Malignaggi and Zab Judah, white hot US foghorn Adrien Broner’s WBA welterweight defence against Argentine KO specialist Marcos Maidana and finally Darlington bantam Stuey Hall’s fairy tale challenge for the vacant IBF title versus Vusi Malinga of South Africa.
All that for just a tenner a month. What better a Christmas box is there for disciples of the Noble Art?
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