SAN FRANCISCO—Assuredly, I lay no claim to a scintilla or a shred of medical expertise.
But, I have to wonder why, after he suffered a frightening second round knockout at the blazing hands of the charismatic and dramatic Pinoy superstar (freshly annointed) Nonito Donaire Jr., they allowed devastated Fernando Montiel to walk from the ring under his own power.
As most of you known, I have been around world championship boxing, most often at ringside in one capacity or another, dating back to Muhammad Ali’s Anchor Punch KO 1 over Charles “Sonny” Liston in May of 1965, St. Dominic’s Arena in Lewiston, Me.
I’ve seen hundreds, maybe thousands, of professional boxers get cold cocked. I’ve seen fighters, starting with my friend and Boston journeyman Willie “Pineapple” Stevenson in Boston, suffer brain injuries which soon killed them.
I don’t mean as “kill the umpire,” I mean as in killed dead.
The worst kind of KO is when the victim hits his head and it goes thudding into the ropes or the ring mat or, worse yet, the beaten fighter actually flies out of the ring like Seirgi “White Wolf” Liakhovich did at the ballpark in Phoenix a couple of years ago when a wheezing Shannon Briggs launched him into the ozone.
Second worst, at least from experience, are the knockouts in when the fallen fighter has obviously been discombobulated.
That’s what razor-sharp, only age 28 and just coming into his prime time Donaire did to Montiel in as Vegas on HBO Saturday night.
He temporarily (we hope, since Montiel went straight to a local hospital) separated the Mexican veteran from his senses.
You saw that leg-twitching thing that Montiel did, that Texas Two Step out of time and hardly syncopated.
His twitching were a testament to Donaire’s high voltage punching power. Montiel’s legs, vibrating from shock power, made it look as though he wanted to turn the ring floor into a disco floor.
I don’t say this to be funny because there’s nothing amusing about brain damaged or worse.
Montiel’s gyrating legs reminded me of being in the Big gg, Korakuen Dome in Tokyo, when Michael Gerard Tyson was separated from his senses by lightly regarded James “Buster” Douglas.
Who can ever forget Tyson, his head smahed in, showing the ultimate warrior sprit, trying in vain to collect his mouthpiece from the canvas?
That Sunday just after noon, Japan time, it was a sick video cartoon. Tyson kept reaching and missing his gumshield as if some unseen person or ghostly force was moving it just beyond his grasp.
One nearly catastrophic KO I did not witness firsthand but which is etched into my mind from TV was when the great Roberto Duran drilled Portland, Oregon’s lightweight contender Ray Lampkin.
They called the slick boxing Lampkin “Birdlegs” and as Duran stood over him those spindly legs twitched around like a Hula Hoop on a skinny girl.
Again, I am not brain surgeon. I am not even a brain sturgeon as fishy as that might sound.
But I do know great and paralyzing knockouts from my five decades in and round major and minor fights, from the glitz and glamor of Caesars Palace to the gritty, rawness of the old Wednesday night club fights every week at the low rent Silver Slipper.
I’ve seen fighters get starched in Indonesia, France, Denmark, Germany, Italy and Canada.
I was with ill-fated Gerald McClellan in London when he suffered a paralyzing KO at the wicked hands of “Dark Destroyer” Nigel Benn. I was there in the hsopital when the chief neurologist on duty informed the promoters that there was no choice now but to drill into the GMan’s head to relieve the swelling on his brain.
I sat at his beside for about a fortnight, the last Don King soldier left with the incapacitated slugger until I went home by airplane.
It was months before McClellan went home to Illinois and, when he did, it was to live his life in as a blind man, mentally diminished man confined to a wheelchair.
Let me refine my opening paragraph.
No complaint and no question as how they handled Montiel after he got up off the mat.
Montiel walked away but where did he go? To a waiting ambulance and on to a hospital to get his overall condition carefully checked.
Fernando Montiel walked away and we must be all glad for that.
But what about the next guy who must face the “Filipino Flash?”
He’s a bantamweight with bricks in his gloves.
He can box with the grace and athleticism of a Wilfred Benitez but he can also whack like the thunderous Terrible Terry Norris.
Donaire put Montiel’s lights out with that beautiful left hook but then he pulled down all the shades for extra measure with a right uppercut as the Mexican’s legs began to betray him and he was sinking to the ring mat.
Montiel walked away from the scary KO.
They should all be so lucky.