NEW YORK — According to a report released Monday, the New York State Athletic Commission “failed to carry out its responsibilities prior to, during and after the bout” in which heavyweight Magomed Abdusalamov suffered brain damage and partial paralysis in a November 2013 fight against Mike Perez at Madison Square Garden.
State inspector general Catherine Leahy Scott’s 48-page report found NYSAC was rife with problems, including that “many critical practices, policies and procedures were either nonexistent or deficient.”
“The commission’s lack of appropriate emergency medical protocols and oversight procedures, as well as clear conflicts of interest among senior staff, reflect a systemic breakdown of its most basic operations,” Scott said.
After a 32- month investigation of the fight and NYSAC, Scott’s report also made several recommendations that it said the commission has agreed to implement, pertaining to emergency communications and procedures, ethics protocols, medical examinations and providing interpreters for boxers.
The report also said then NYSAC-chair Melvina Lathan received improper gifts from promoters and “failed to ensure appropriate and routine review of Athletic Commission policies and procedures, and failed to train staff on the proper response to medical issues that may arise after a fight.” Her successor, Thomas Hoover, provided free passes to friends for boxing matches and knowingly recommended an unqualified person for a commission job, according to the report.
Hoover, according to a NYSAC statement Monday, offered his resignation, which was accepted.
Abdusalamov, a native of the Russian Republic of Dagestan, was undefeated when he stepped into the ring Nov. 2, 2013, against Mike Perez, who also had no losses. After a bloody 10-round decision for Perez, commission doctors examined Abdusalamov and stitched a laceration above his left eye.
The doctors said, according to Outside the Lines interviews with Abdusalamov’s cornermen, that within about a week of flying home to Florida he should see a doctor for removal of the sutures and X-rays of a suspected facial fracture. The doctors didn’t send him to a hospital in an on-site ambulance.
After blood was found in his urine sample, an increasingly unsteady and nauseated Abdusalamov went with his handlers by taxi to an emergency room. Diagnosed with a large blood clot in his brain, he underwent surgery, suffered multiple strokes and was in a coma for weeks. It was 10 months until he could join his family in their new home in Connecticut.
Now 35, Abdusalamov is unable to walk or talk. Abdusalamov’s family told ESPN’s Outside the Lines in June 2015 about the daily struggles they confront since that fateful night in New York. And last month, his wife, Bakanay, 29, said despite a prognosis that his condition won’t improve, “I’m still waiting and hoping he’ll reassume his role as head of the house so things can go back to the way they were.”
The inspector general’s report takes the commission to task for failing to have adequate post-fight emergency plans in place and failing to properly communicate with Abdusalamov and his team – who were never informed that there were two ambulances on site.
NYSAC’s chief medical officer Barry Jordan had oversight over these areas and, according to the report, also bears some responsibility for the confusion after Abdusalamov was feeling ill post-fight.
Matt Farrago, the NYSAC inspector for the bout assigned to Abdusalamov, had conflicts of interest that violated the commission’s code of conduct, the report states. And, it says, “In the absence of formal protocol and specific training, Farrago failed to alert a physician, and instead directed Abdusalamov to find a taxi to take him to a hospital of the driver’s choosing.”
Abdusalamov and his family are suing the five athletic commission doctors assigned to the fight, as well as the referee and Farrago, alleging recklessness, gross negligence and medical malpractice. The athletic commission countersued five of Abdusalamov’s former handlers — two of whom have had their cases dismissed.