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Boxers, Be Brave and Quit Before Your Brain Turns to Mush

Thanks to the NFL class action suit and the swirl of publicity surrounding head injuries, there have been a number of rule changes aimed at removing some of the risks that come with football. But if you think the gridiron arts can shake up the grey matter, try the prize ring.

On Tuesday, 26-year-old junior featherweight Francisco “Frankie” Leal, died from a brain injury suffered in a knockout loss to Raul Hirales in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Hirales, who was dominating the fight, had Leal down in the sixth round. In the eighth, Hirales landed a crushing right. Leal was up before the count of 10 but then collapsed and soon thereafter fell into a coma. It could be argued that Leal should not have been allowed in the ring in the first place, given the fact that he had to be taken out on a stretcher after his frightening knockout loss to Evgeny Gradovich in March 2012.

Unlike the NFL, boxing people do not need the lab coats to tell them about the connection between blows to the head and early onset dementia. And yet, tweaking the rules of the ring is not going to spare boxers from the “pocket full of mumbles” fate of Muhammad Ali, Joe Louis, Sugar Ray Robinson, Floyd Patterson and countless other ring warriors...


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