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Boxer gets record $22 million settlement from New York in brain injury case

Mike Perez vs. Magomed Abdusalamov
Mike Perez (left) and Magomed Abdusalamov each land punches during their 2013 bout.
Getty Images

An important case that has ramifications throughout combat sports has been settled for a record amount of money.

New York State agreed to pay boxer Magomed Abdusalamov and his family $22 million Friday in a personal injury case, stemming from Abdusalamov suffering brain damage following a 2013 fight, according to multiple reports. Per ESPN, it is believed to be the biggest personal injury settlement in state history.

Abdusalamov, 36, lost to Mike Perez on Nov. 2, 2013 by unanimous decision. Four years later, the Russian boxer is still paralyzed on his right side, unable to walk and his speech has been reduced to mumbling.

After the fight — and its aftermath — Abdusalamov’s family filed a lawsuit claiming recklessness, gross negligence and medical malpractice by the New York State Athletic Commission (NYSAC), its staff and its ringside physicians.

Abdusalamov was not rushed to the hospital following the completion of his post-fight medicals. He ended up having to take a cab there. The lawsuit alleged that the NYSAC doctors’ actions resulted in a delayed diagnosis and treatment of what ended up being a blood clot in Abdusalamov’s brain.

The boxer had to undergo surgery that night. He suffered several strokes, was in a coma for weeks, hospitalized for more than 10 months and is still rehabilitating.

"I would trade all of the money to just bring back Mago as he was, but that's not how it works, it cannot buy the happiness we had,” Abdusalamov’s wife Bakanay Abdusalamova told ESPN.

The Abdusalamov situation spurred a 32-month investigation by the New York State inspector general, which released a scathing report on the NYSAC last year. The commission, which has mostly been overhauled, is still feeling the results of the fallout.

The case was the major reason why New York now requires promoters to take out $1 million traumatic brain injury insurance policies out on every fighter on every card, which was part of the bill bringing MMA to the state. Smaller shows in boxing have all but disappeared due to the additional cost of promoting shows in the state and club-level MMA shows don’t really exist.

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