You do not play boxing.
We sometimes call it “the fight game,” but we are periodically reminded that it is not that, not something that one dabbles in, or engages in for fun and to divert oneself from the slings and arrows that we all deal with.
A reminder was furnished to us on Friday night, Feb. 8, at 2300 Arena in Philadelphia, PA, when in the main event of a Raging Babe show, which screened on Facebook Fightnight Live, a left hand by underdog Victor Ruiz dropped favorite Christian Carto.
The power shot rendered the 17-0 Carto, a local hero, unconscious probably before he hit the canvas, and his head clanged on the mat as he was splayed on his back. There he lay for minute after excruciating minute, as the sold out crowd watched, hushed, prayerful, hopeful that the 22 year old young man would open his eyes, speak, move his limbs.
I sat ringside, headset on, calling the seven bout card doing blow by blow duties, next to analyst Adam Abramowitz.
Coming in, we’d done our scouting and homework, and noted that the underdog held a 22-10 mark and had lost the fights he’d engaged in with some very solid pugilists. He’d been kayoed five times in his ten losses. This was supposed to be, on paper, a step-up fight for Carto, who, many of us assumed, would have to work hard, but would get the W and resume his upward trek toward the big leagues.
You know what they say about assuming…
The left hand was delivered quickly, with a force I dare say most outside of Team Ruiz didn’t think was in his possession.
Doctors on site rushed to Carto’s side as the referee dispensed with a ten count, because he knew Carto wasn’t conscious. EMTS came into the ring, and the gathered fight fans were mostly quiet. Some family and friends murmured. Someone took issue with photographers taking pictures of the downed man. “I’m going to call the police,” said an offended person, understandably, because this was in front of a us a life or death situation, and it isn’t easy to understand that news gatherers see such instances from a different point of view. At ringside, we tried to be mindful of the dignity if the man, and the peril we all felt. When he moved a gloved hand, we cheered inside. When we saw his eyes open, we exulted. He was rolled onto a stretcher, placed onto a gurney, and we all hoped for the best.
A ring doc told me he was optimistic that Carto would be fine. Christian was unconscious for about 47 seconds, I was told, but then woke up. He was able to converse as the lead physician tended to him, I was told. The kid will be OK, the doc told me.
About an hour and a half later, I got a text message from Christian’s brother Frank. “He’s ok, he’s up and talking,” the older brother stated.
I cheered, and then drove home, from Philly to Brooklyn, contemplative but not morose.
I went to bed happier, knowing we’d dodged a bullet.
Cover the sport long enough and one of these times the ending won’t be so upbeat. I’d been inside to see Mike Perez inflict harsh trauma on Magomed Abdusalamov.
It’s a numbers game. Friday night, an unbeaten record was besmirched but on the bright side, Christian Carto will live to fight on, if not in the ring, then outside of it.
“Physically he’s fine. Just relaxing. Just upset,” said brother Frankie when I checked in early Saturday afternoon. “Thank you for the concern.”
Thanks to Christian for his willingness to risk his health for the entertainment of the masses, and thanks to the medical staff on site and the progress we’ve enjoyed within the sweet science, in being better at responding to such events. Thanks also to the powers that be, for spinning the wheel of fate thusly, and making sure Christian Carto is today “fine.”
END NOTE: You can watch the fight here; mind you, I would not be posting the link if I didn’t know Carto was not OK. I’m not into “succeeding” if it means exploiting such an event.