Joshua
Andy Ruiz Jr floors Anthony Joshua in New York. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: A UK-based charity that works to improve life after brain injury has revealed that British champion boxer Anthony Joshua could have died after being brutally knocked down by Mexican Andy Ruiz Jr in their heavyweight fight on June 1 in New York.

The revelation comes just months ahead of the upcoming rematch in Saudi Arabia this December.

Headway, the Nottingham-based brain injury association, has accused Joshua’s trainer, Robert McCraken for gross neglect on his part even though he knew he fighter was severely concussed by heavy punches to the head.

McCracken, a former middleweight champion and the head coach of the British boxing team at the 2012 Summer Olympic Games in London, was told by a visibly groggy Joshua at the end of the third round that he was feeling strange did not know what was going on, or what round it was.

Ruiz caught Joshua with a stinging left hook to the top of the head in round three, a punch that led to concussion and lack of awareness.

Joshua hung on for four more rounds, during which he took a lot more punishment and was sent him to the canvas three more times, before the referee called a stop to the contest.

That, could well have saved his life!

“Trainers have a duty of care to their boxers and it seems clear that Anthony Joshua’s trainer’s sole priority was winning that fight, not protecting the fighter from a potentially fatal injury,” a spokesperson for Headway told the British tabloid newspaper, The Sun.

“We know once you’ve had a concussion, any subsequent blow can exacerbate the damage. You are most at risk of having a particularly serious or fatal brain injury if the brain has already been damaged and a concussion has already been sustained.”

McCracken, who only this year began training Joshua, defended his decision not to throw in the towel and save Joshua from the impending catastrophe.

“I knew he was concussed and I’m trying to get him through a few more rounds, one round at a time, and see where he’s at,” he told BBC’s 5 Live boxing podcast.

“But he was glazy-eyed from when he got caught with that initial shot in round three and he carried that with him up until the end.”

Headway deputy chief executive Luke Griggs described McCracken’s statement as a ‘shocking admission.’

“It’s highly unlikely that this is an isolated incident.” he told The Sun.

"We know once you’ve had a concussion, any subsequent blow can exacerbate the damage. You are most at risk of having a particularly serious or fatal brain injury if the brain has already been damaged and a concussion has already been sustained.

“One wonders how many deaths in the ring over the years have resulted from a win-at-all-costs mentality.”

There are no actual figures on casualties in the ring but it safe to say that over 600 boxers have died in the ring since the Marquis of Queensbury Rules were introduced in 1884.

This year alone there were two fatalities, Russian Maxim Dadashev, who died of cerebral edema caused by sustained hits to the head in his fight against Puerto Rican Subriel Matias and Argentine Hugo Alfredo Santillan died due to swelling of the brain and subsequent kidney failure following his bout with Uruguay’s Eduardo Javier Abreu.