The recent article from ESPN describes Prichard Colon’s further struggle as he prepares to undergo another surgery to repair the damage from the October 17th fight that put him in a coma. Since the fight every article has addressed the numerous instances in the fight of Colon complaining about shots to the back of the head, and the referee all but ignoring those complaints on most occasions. While this account is true, it’s also true that the majority of the crowd that night was unable to clearly see the blows to the back of the head, and in fact, it’s still hard to see on the video of the fight. It’s not unheard of or even looked down on in boxing for a fighter to complain as much as possible about his opponents blows to one area or another, if only to deter the fighter from throwing the same shot again (whether legal or not). When Colon’s opponent Williams gestured to the crowd incredulously in response to his complaints of blows to the head, most of us were jeering and booing the delay in the action, feeling as if Colon was trying to buy time.
The result is a horrible tragedy that no amount of blame can ever set right, but of course I can understand wanting to hold accountable the person whose job it was to control the action in the ring. And we always should. I think this statement from the Virginia Department of Professional & Occupational Regulation, who investigated the fight after the injury, is revealing, and accurate:
The DPOR report said, in part, “no regulatory violations appear to warrant disciplinary action against any Virginia licensees, including Williams. Cooper, the contract referee, generally maintained control of the contest — despite noted disagreement over some foul calls and consistency of point deductions — consulted with the ringside physician; and complied with regulatory requirements to attend to Colon’s health. … No one action (or failure to act) can be identified that is so apparent or egregious to justify holding accountable any one person.”
The report concluded, “Although there is no evidence of foreseeable wrongdoing on the part of any particular individual, looking back at the ‘what ifs’ is indeed heartbreaking. DPOR remains committed to fighter safety, doing what we can to protect fighters despite the inherent risks of combative sports like boxing, and praying for Prichard Colon.” (ESPN.com)