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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

U.S. Boxer Fighting for Life

LONDON -- Gerald McClellan was supposed to win in one round and add another title to his impressive collection.


He wound up the loser and fighting for his life in a hospital.


In a tragic ending to a brutal fight Saturday, super-middleweight McClellan collapsed in the ring seconds after he was knocked out in the 10th round by WBC titlist Nigel Benn.


After surgeons removed a blood clot from his brain, the 27-year-old American remained on life support.


"It turned out to be not just a boxing match but a war," said Benn's trainer, Peter De Freitas.


McClellan, who had won his last three WBC middleweight title fights in one round, almost did it again, charging Benn through the ropes after only 35 seconds with an early knockdown.


But Benn just wouldn't stay down. In a fight that seemed like a Rocky movie for real, the British fighter, roared on by a sellout crowd of 12,500 fans, turned it around and floored McClellan twice in the 10th for a seventh successful defense.


But what happened after the second knockdown started off dramatic and ended up tragic.


McClellan, blinking in discomfort and clearly dazed, appeared to wait until the referee had finished the count. Then he got up and walked back to his corner.


With no stool waiting, he sat on the floor, pressed his head against the post and then slumped unconscious to one side.


Medics and doctors were quickly into the ring and gave him the comfort of a neck brace and oxygen to bring him round.


While Benn celebrated a huge turnaround victory, McClellan was carried out of the ring on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.


He told doctors he was fine and not to worry. Then the blood clot sent him back into unconsciousness and the surgeons operated.


"It's too early to say he is going to survive this blood clot or not," said John Sutcliffe, the neurosurgeon who performed the operation.


"But I think there is a good chance he will survive, unless any other problems develop. Things could take a turn for the better or worse over the next two days."


Sutcliffe said it was too early to say whether the American had suffered long-term damage. In any case, he said, "his career as a boxer is finished." Sutcliffe said he believed the blows McClellan took in the leadup to the two knockdowns probably were responsible for the brain reaction.


The British Medical Association and the British Safety Council, which have been spearheading an anti-boxing campaign for years, said the McClellan tragedy was another grim example of the sport's dangers.


"How many more cases do we need of boxers playing roulette with their brains before the government and [the Boxing] Board of Control take seriously what we say about the cumulative danger that boxing does?" said medical association spokesman Jeffrey Cundy. Cundy said the medical association wants a complete ban on the sport.


As McClellan was fighting for his life, Benn said: "I'm very sad at what's happened. My thoughts are with Gerald and his family and I'm praying that he will make a full recovery."


(AP, Reuters)


And in an interview in Monday's Sun newspaper, Benn said: "If Gerald doesn't pull through then I think that will be it. After last night I've been thinking about stopping boxing. Now, if Gerald's O.K. I think I can carry on. But I only think I've got a couple of fights left in me."