Journeyman boxer David Whittom was in an induced coma at Saint John Regional Hospital on Monday following surgery to treat bleeding on the brain after a knockout loss.
The 38-year-old was listed in stable condition, said his trainer Francois Duguay.
Whittom (12-24-1), a Saint Quentin, N.B. native based in Quebec City, was knocked out in the 10th round of a bout for the Canadian cruiserweight title against Gary Kopas (8-11-2) of Saskatoon in Fredericton on Saturday night.
He got up off the canvas and seemed fine as he left the building with his girlfriend and his mother, Duguay said. But his girlfriend called shortly after they arrived at their hotel to say that Whittom had a severe headache and was sweating and nauseous. He was taken to hospital in Fredericton and transferred to Saint John when it was determined he had suffered a brain injury.
Surgery was performed early Sunday morning. Duguay said doctors considered it progress on Monday that he was deemed fit to undergo a brain scan.
Whittom, once a promising super-middleweight who fought world title contenders like Adrian Diaconu and Eleider Alvarez and future WBC champion Adonis Stevenson, has lost 19 of his last 21 bouts. He was in his first fight in 14 months.
He battled alcohol and drug abuse earlier in his career and twice considered retirement, only to stay in the ring despite the defeats.
"He'd been clean for 26 months and he was in top shape," said Duguay. "It was a winnable fight, that's why I took the fight."
He said Whittom was leading on the judges' scorecards when he was knocked out, which may have come from an accumulation of shots rather than one knockout punch, he said.
Vincent Morin, a friend and former teammate on the Quebec amateur boxing team who handles media relations for Montreal promoter Groupe Yvon Michel, said boxing was more than just a sport for Whittom.
"He hung up his gloves twice, but he was always coming back to boxing because it was his way out," said Morin. "It was known he had alcohol and drug problems and the only thing that kept him on track was boxing."
Morin said Whittom's injury may cause other retired boxers to think twice about returning to the ring.
"When it happens here like that you think about it — that it may be a sign not to come back," said Morin.
Bill Beacon, The Canadian Press