The boxing community is mourning the death of 26 year-old Mexican featherweight fighter Frankie Leal, who is also known as "Little Solder." The boxer died today from a brain injury sustained in the eighth-round on Saturday night in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico against Raul Hirales.
Leal was behind the entire bout, even falling to the mat in the sixth round. Towards the end of the eighth round, Hirales punched Leal twice in the back of the head and knocked him down. However, Leal got back up on his feet, only to instantly fall back down on the mat. The fight was then called off with seconds left in the round, the featherweight was removed from the ring on a stretcher and admitted to a hospital where he was already in a coma. He died three days later in a hospital in San Diego, California.
No one knows why some boxers can take a beating and walk out of the ring in good shape, while other fighters are more susceptible to life-changing traumatic injuries or even death. Referees are trained to look for certain criteria when deciding whether a fighter has had too much or can take another hit. Laurence Cole, a referee who has worked many high profile bouts discussed some of the warning signs, "You're looking for several pieces that all fall together. You look at the fatigue of [the fighter], how his feet are underneath his body, how much effort he's taking to keep maintaining his balance, the condition of his neck.
Here's a video of Hirales' knockout punch:
A lot of questions about whether Leal should have been allowed to box in the first place are being raised today. This was not his first time being removed from the ring on a stretcher. In 2012, Leal was knocked out in a bout with IBF featherweight champ Evgeny Gradovich. However, the boxer fought on, and returned to the ring in January, 2013. This was Leal's fifth fight this year.
Leal will finish his career with a 20-8-3 record with 13 knockouts. Bruce Trample, who is a Top Rank matchmaker, posted on his Twitter account today, "This is so wrong. I thought Leal was going to die the night he fought Gradovich, but he kept going and going until this. RIP." Trample believes that Leal's death could have been avoided and that his cornerman and trainer should take on some responsibility.
Many agree with Trample:
— Richard Torres, Esq. (@boxinglawyer) October 23, 2013
Sad to hear Frankie Leal passed. RIP. Read tweets from @BruceTrampler and he is 1000% correct.
— Ron Katz (@rkmatchmaker) October 23, 2013
— buzz (@Buzzbeyond) October 23, 2013
Image via Youtube