Derrik Holmes complained all last week about an abscessed upper wisdom tooth that probably resulted in his suffering a broken jaw, his brother John said yesterday in Las Vegas.
The super bantamweight (122-pound limit) boxer is in a Las Vegas hospital where, on Saturday, his jaw was wired by Dr. Daniel Orr, oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
John Holmes reported that the surgeon told the family during emergency treatment late Friday night that Derrik's condition before his challenge to Wilfredo Gomez for the World Boxing Council title was such that even a light punch might have fractured his jaw.
Gomez, a hard puncher, scored his 30th straight knockout in 31 bouts.
Holmes was down for counts eight times including one time when he had not been hit. He went down five times in the fourth round.
John said that the punch that broke Derrik's jaw occurred in the second round, and that he went down as often as he did because of the intense pain, but would not quit out of concern for his image of courage.
He wanted the referee (Joey Curtis) to stop the bout in the five-knockdown fourth round," John said. "And when he didn't that is why in the fifth round . . . Derrik sat up on the canvas from the last knockdown and just crossed his legs."
When he arose, Gilbert (Billy) Ware, Derrik's manager of record, tossed a towel into the ring, a traditional signal that a fighters handlers want a bout stopped. The referee halted the action and awarded a knockout victory to Gomez.
John said that Derrik did not mention his tooth problem at the prefight physical examination by Dr. Donald Romeo of the Nevada State Athletic Commisssion. Romeo is on vacation and was unavailable for comment.
John said Derrik complained of his tooth all week to Ware.
Derrik said from his hospital bed yesterday that he did not know about the surgeon's reported remarks about his vulnerability to a broken jaw in his condition.
"I knew I had a wisdom tooth problem, that I got hit on that side and got messed up," he said. "My jaw was wired on Saturday; I don't feel too good."
"Derrik didn't remember what the surgeon told the family members on Friday night," John said, "because he was so upset and in such pain."
On Saturday, before Holmes' surgery, Derrik's mother Charlene was reluctant to talk about the events leading up to Derrik's injury.
John said his mother reacted in that manner because Derrik's business manager, Brett Molovinsky, advised the family not to give any details because they might affect Derrik's chances for fights in the future.
Later Molovinsky did arrange for a reporter to talk to Mrs. Holmes. She reported that Derrik told her he was hoping the referee would stop the bout because he was in such pain but did not want to quit.
Molovinsky and Ware could not be reached yesterday and were reported to be en rout to Washington. Dr. Orr would confirm only that he performed surgery on Saturday during which he wired Derrik's jaw. Pending permission from Mrs. Holmes, Orr would not discuss other questions, such as Derrik's possible prefight vulnerability.