Stricter regulations needed in combat sport

This week has been a dark week in the sport of boxing.

Russian boxer Maxim Dadashev passed away on the 24th of July due to injuries sustained in last Friday’s fight versus Subriel Matias. According to ESPN, Dadashev lost consciousness on his way to the locker room after the fight. Dadashev then underwent an emergency brain surgery for a subdural hematoma and a coma was then induced in an attempt to save his life. I have seen footage of Buddy McGrit, Dadashev’s trainer urging his fighter to stop the fight as he continued to take punishment.

On Thursday it was reported that 23-year-old Argentine boxer Hugo Santillan has passed away from injuries sustained during his bout with Eduardo Javier Abreu in last Saturday’s WBC Latino Silver lightweight bout. He passed away on the 25th of July.

In the same week, news broke that British heavyweight boxer Dillian Whyte had tested positive for a banned substance in the days leading up to his WBC heavyweight interim title fight. Why wasn’t the fight called off there and then, you may ask? Well, Whyte was informed that his A sample had tested positive for a banned substance and used his right as an athlete to request the UK Anti-Doping to test his B sample, which he knew would take time and allow the fight to go ahead. Smart move right? So the UK Anti-Doping, WBC, and the British Board of Boxing Control had no choice but to let the fight go ahead.

Where am I going with this? I mean these three events are totally unrelated, the first two incidents I mentioned were very unfortunate events and the third one did not lead to a fatality.

Well when I look at the circumstances surrounding the Dadashev vs Subriel Matias bout, I feel like stricter regulations are needed in boxing. From the footage I watched, Dadashev’s trainer can be seen urging his fighter to allow him to stop the fight. He even asked him to stop the fight himself. So if we can hear it the referee could hear it too right? I think boxing regulations must give referees more power to stop a fight, even when someone is being gutsy but taking a real beating. I’m not blaming the referee for the death, nor am I blaming the boxing regulators. All I’m saying is there is a lesson to be learned here and regulations around stoppages must be relooked at.

Then there is the Whyte doping issue. Surely if there was a fatality in this fight wouldn’t it be criminal? Someone who had juiced up beats and injured a clean fighter who ends up losing his life, I shudder to think about this. The boxing associations have to sit down and find a way to stifle the loophole used by Whyte and his team. I think anti-doping agencies must take an A, B and C sample then get A and B samples tested at the same time so that clean fighters can face each other in the ring. Whyte is facing a lifetime ban for a second substance abuse offense and I know all fight fans can’t wait to see the back of him!

This week it has just been boxing in the headlines but I think all combat sports should look into stricter regulations one way or another.

In closing my prayers go out to the fallen fighters’ families. RIP

Also, let’s spare a thought for the men who were in the ring with the late boxers.I’m sure it’s not an easy position to be in.

Philani Mukwakwami


Sports are a hobby horse of mine, what happens in-between the lines is just as thrilling as what happens outside of them.