Report: NYSAC mishandled tragic Magomed Abdusalamov bout

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 to be rife with problems.

"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.

The commission oversees boxing in the state and, after the April legalization of MMA in New York, is to run such events, too -- the first is a scheduled UFC program on Nov. 12.

After a 32-month investigation of the fight and NYSAC, Scott's report also made several recommendations that the commission has agreed to implement. They pertain to emergency communications and procedures, ethics protocols, medical examinations and providing interpreters for boxers.

The report said the NYSAC chair at the time of the Abdusalamov bout, Melvina Lathan, "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." And the probe found Lathan and her staff received improper gifts from promoters.

The investigation concluded that her successor, Thomas Hoover, provided free passes to friends and family for boxing matches and knowingly recommended an unqualified person for a commission job, among other inappropriate actions.

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 on Nov. 2, 2013, against Mike Perez, who also had no losses. After a 10-round decision for Perez, athletic commission doctors examined Abdusalamov's bloodied and swollen face, and stitched a laceration above his left eye.

According to Outside the Lines interviews with Abdusalamov's cornermen, the commission doctors told Abdusalamov 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 athletic commission doctors didn't send him to a hospital in an on-site ambulance.

After a fight inspector found blood in the boxer's 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 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 postfight 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 that ensued after Abdusalamov felt ill postfight.

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 said. And, "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's medical bills long ago exceeded $2 million, according to court documents. He received $40,000 for his final fight and had the required $10,000 insurance coverage, his former promoter said.

The Abdusalamov family is suing Jordan and the four athletic commission doctors assigned to the fight, as well as the referee and Farrago, alleging recklessness, gross negligence and medical malpractice. The state in turn sued five of Abdusalamov's former handlers -- two of whom have had their cases dismissed.

A spokesman for the state attorney general's office, which filed the suit against Abdusalamov's ex-handlers and represents Jordan and Farrago, said Tuesday in response to an Outside the Lines inquiry, "we aren't going to have any comment right now."

Contacted by Outside the Lines Tuesday, while on vacation in Italy, Abdusalamov family attorney Paul Edelstein said, "The state's findings Monday are not surprising at all, given the thoroughness of the investigation, however, the timing is suspect, because it comes on the heels of separate litigation we instituted to force the release of the report."

"If everything has been so clear for two years in this case," said Edelstein, "why hasn't anybody from the state taken action to settle the Abdusalamov family's suit and do the right thing by them?"