January 24, 2000
Bruno on Boxing
By Joe Bruno---Former vice president of the Boxing Writers Association and
the International Boxing Writers Association
News item: Boxer has 50-50 chance to live after injury in Venice, Florida
The fight card was delayed an hour because the ambulance didn't show up
on time. No one could predict it would soon play a dramatic part in the
balance between life or death.
It was the first of five scheduled Sunday night shows promoted by America
Presents and televised by Fox Sports Network, from the Venice Arena in
Sarasota County, Florida. The semi main featured Emiliano Valdez of the
Dominican Republic, 10-2-1 with 6 KO's, against late substitute Teddy Reid
from Washington DC, 14-3 with 10 KO's. Valdez' original opponent was
scheduled to be Robert Kamya, but Kamya pulled out and Reid, the USBA and
NABF welterweight champ, was notified about the fight on Tuesday.
It was a brutal battle, with both fighters being penalized points for
repeated fouls. In the second round, Reid dropped Valdez with two overhand
right. But Valdez fought back gamely and started wailing away with both
fists, mostly below Reid's Mason-Dixon line. Valdez had a point taken away by
referee Brian Garry in the second and third rounds for low blows. Both times
the fight was delayed for two minutes while Reid recovered. Reid also lost a
point, in the fourth round for hitting on the break.
After Valdez hit Reid below the belt for the umpteenth time, one ringside
scribe quipped, "The Soprano's are on at 9pm tonight. Reid is going to be a
soprano before eight pm."
In the fifth round, ref Garry told Valdez, "One more low blow and I'm
stopping the fight."
Soon after, Valdez did land another low blow, and if Reid had just
dropped to one knee, Garry would've certainly been forced to stop the bout,
and award the fight to Reid on a disqualification. But Reid stood upright and
the fight continued. Reid's decision not to take one knee, would soon prove
to be potentially fatal.
In the next four rounds, an exhausted Valdez gamely tried to outpunch the
more talented and heavier-handed Reid. Reid repeatedly wobbled Valdez' knees
with crushing right and lefts, but Valdez refused to fall. After round eight,
Valdez seemed to slip off his stool between rounds, either from exhaustion,
or from the effects from the beating he took in the previous rounds.
The tenth and final round started with Valdez staggering around the ring
on rubbery legs, and Reid pursuing. Suddenly, after seeming to trip over his
own feet, Valdez dropped his hands and waved his right glove toward his
corner, like he wanted to quit. Before the ref could intercede, Reid jumped
in with a devastating right cross, and thunderous left hook flush on Valdez'
face. Valdez dropped backwards under the bottom rope, out cold, legs
quivering. Garry took one look and without counting, quickly stopped the
Ring doctors immediately jumped into the ring and administered oxygen to
the fallen fighter. While Valdez was being frantically attended to by ring
doctors and paramedics, Reid jumped on the ring ropes and yelled back at
taunting fans, including world class junior-welterweigh Zab Judah. Reid
proudly banged his chest, smiled broadly, pointed at the fallen Valdez and
screamed, "Look at him!"
Within a minute, paramedics brought a stretcher into the ring, and Valdez
was immediately wisked brought to Venice's Bon Secours Hospital, less than a
mile away from Venice Arena.
During the main event between heavyweight Lawrence Clay-Bey and former
cruiserweight Robert Daniels, Florida commission doctor Dr. Tauras Kochno,
who accompanied Valdez to the hospital, told the CBZ, "Valdez suffered
massive swelling to the brain called a subdural hematoma. He is being
operated on this very minute to remove the blood clot."
Soon after, Florida commission doctor Dr. Ramon Garcia-Septien told the
CBZ, "Valdez was going to be airlifted to the Bay Front Medical Center in
Tampa, but his condition is so critical, the doctors at Bon Secours decided
to operate immediately here in Venice. He has a 50-50 chance to survive."
In the dressing room after the fight, Reid's trainer Pepe Correa, who
also trained former champion Sugar Ray Leonard, was livid. He screamed, "The
kid (Valdez) was trying to quit for three rounds. I don't understand why they
didn't stop the fight sooner." Correa didn't allude to who he meant by "they."
A now dejected Reid admitted, "Yeah, I saw he wanted to quit, but I guess
the ref didn't see it. I had no choice but to punch. I hurt my hand in the
third round, and I was hit with a lot of low blows. I wanted to end the fight
An hour after the fight, Reid issued the following statement though the
promoters America Presents: "All my thoughts and prayers go out to Emiliano
Valdez and his family. I hope and pray that he will be all right and recover
as soon as possible. I also apologize for my celebrating after the fight. It
was a very hard fight and I was relieved and excited that it was over and did
not realize that Emiliano was hurt. Emiliano is a brave fighter and a brave
man, and I am praying for him."
The following morning, a representative from Bob Secours Hospital told
the CBZ only that Valdez' condition was critical. They said that no other
information could be released to the press.
Post fight analysis:
After viewing the fight card at ringside at the Venice Arena, this
reporter rushed home to view the replay of the fight on Fox Sports Network at
12 midnight. The live fight had been blacked out within a 75 mile radius from
the Venice Arena.
During the replay, it was apparent that Valdez was out of it and hurt
from round seven on. His legs were unsteady, but when wobbled, Valdez always
fired back with both hands. There never was a time when the ref Garry seemed
imminent to stop the fight, but the responsibility to do so appeared to rest
with Valdez' brave corner, who kept sending him out to be pummeled.
The end came so quickly, the ref Garry was powerless to do anything to
stop the last two punches. Garry was behind Reid, and as soon as Reid fired
his final salvo, Garry grabbed Reid's arms. But it was too late. The damage
had already been done.
After the fight, describing the ending, ref Gary told the CBZ, "Valdez
was hit with a right hand, then he turned away from Reid. Reid then threw a
right, then a left hook that knocked down Valdez."
The replay showed that no initial right was thrown by Reid. Valdez simply
turned toward his corner, and waved his right hand, like he had had enough.
Reid, as he is allowed to by the rules of boxing, fired the final two punches
that might prove to be fatal.
During the fight, Fox Sports boxing announcer Barry Thomkins, commenting
on the repeated fouling by both fighters, told sidekick Rich Marrotta, "This
is one of the most impolite fights we've ever seen in three years of
televised Fox Sports fights."
Marrotta answered back, "This is the first fight where the opponents
might not shake hands after the fight."
Marrotta's comments turned out to be prophetic, but not for the reasons
anyone could envision.
Fifth-Fifty chance for Valdez to survive. All we can do is pray.