BY MITCH ABRAMSON
The family of the brain-damaged boxer Magomed Abdusalamov has initiated court proceedings to file a lawsuit against the New York State Athletic Commission in the amount of $100 million, charging the state with disregard for his well-being following his November fight and not looking out for him when they had the chance, the boxer’s former promoter said on Friday.
The Russian heavyweight Abdusalamov was beaten severely in his Nov. 2 match with Mike Perez at Madison Square Garden, suffering a broken jaw and hand in losing a unanimous decision. Following the match, as he left the arena with just his handlers and went to a nearby hospital, he had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain and was put in a medically-induced coma where he remained for several weeks.
He currently resides at Helen Hayes Hospital in West Haverstraw, NY, where he can barely move or talk and has lost considerable weight and recently had reconstructive surgery on his skull, according to Nathan Lewkowicz, Abdusalamov’s former promoter.
The state’s inspector general’s office is currently investigating the circumstances surrounding the fight, which includes interviews with doctors and commission members. The office is expected to release its report shortly, Lewkowicz said. When that happens, he expects the family to file a formal lawsuit against the state.
The family of the boxer did file paperwork with the New York State Court of Claims on Jan. 28 that it intends to file a claim against the state for its mishandling of Abdusalamov in the moments during and after the bout, Lewkowicz said.
The boxer’s family alleges in court papers that commission officials permitted him to be “violently beaten, bludgeoned, punched and pummeled by his opponent without proper, timely or adequate recognition, termination and or/rescue” and that he was “permitted to sustain life threatening injuries…due to the improper, untimely and inadequate medical care” on behalf of the state athletic commission members.
“I think based on hearing what transpired as more details came out, I think it’s pretty obvious that they were going to file a lawsuit,” Lewkowicz said in a phone interview.
“It’s one of those awful situations where it’s their only recourse at this point.”
The family is seeking damages for “loss of services and loss of consortium of her husband and for medical expenses” in the amount of $100 million, according to a copy of the court documents, which were first reported and obtained by ESPN’s Outside the Lines.
“It’s a situation where you sue for a lot and hope to get some of that,” Lewkowicz said.
Abdusalamov’s family has since relocated from Florida to live with a cousin in Connecticut, said Lewkowicz, who estimated that Abdusalamov’s medical expenses will “definitely exceed $700,000.”
Paul Edelstein, the attorney for Abdusalamov’s wife, Bakanay and three daughters, did not immediately return a call to his cell phone for comment. A message with the New York State Athletic Commission also wasn’t immediately returned on Friday night.
Abdusalamov's manager, Boris Grinberg has blasted the state commission for rushing him through their post-fight examination following the fight and sending him on his way into the November night without directing him to a hospital or a waiting ambulance. Several sources close to the commission disputed that account however, insiting that Abdusalamov was carefully examined during and after the fight and that he was told to seek further medical attention.
“He had four different doctors look at him,” maintained a source close to the NYSAC who followed the actions of the physicians attending to Abdusalamov. “He had four different examinations and never complained of anything. He never said anything was wrong.
After the fight he went back to the audience and was watching the main event. The doctors can’t think of anything they would have necessarily done differently because all of the procedures were followed correctly.”
After getting his cuts stitched up by the state commission doctors in his dressing room and giving a urine sample, Abdusalamov vomited upon leaving the Garden and was taken in a cab by his team to the hospital where he had a blood clot removed from his brain and also suffered a stroke.
Mitch Abramson covers boxing for the New York Daily News and BoxingScene.com.