The Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation has launched an official investigation into a fight Saturday afternoon that left boxer Prichard Colon in a coma at Inova Fairfax Hospital following emergency surgery for bleeding in his brain, a department spokeswoman confirmed Wednesday.
The Puerto Rican super welterweight remains in a critical condition three days after being rushed to the hospital in the wake of losing to Terrel Williams on the undercard of the “PBC on NBC” broadcast of the main event featuring the District’s Lamont Peterson outlasting Felix Diaz at EagleBank Arena in Fairfax.
Colon, according to family members, is breathing on his own, although he continues to be intubated.
The DPOR oversees licensing and regulation for a wide range of businesses and events in Virginia, including boxing, mixed martial arts and wrestling cards. Its investigation “is in the very initial stage and must be conducted in accordance with state administrative law requirements,” Mary Broz-Vaughan, the office’s director of communications, wrote in an e-mail. “And of course, while we are most respectful of the family’s request for privacy right now, the investigation will need to involve talking with them when appropriate and feasible.
“God willing, we’ll be talking with Prichard himself.”
Meanwhile, state boxing commissioner David Holland has been looking into the fight as well and indicated Monday that he felt all arena personnel, including officials and medical staff, conducted themselves according to regulation and responded as quickly as possible.
Holland did not respond to a message left Tuesday seeking further comment about the fight, in which Colon, 23, was disqualified before the start of the 10th and final round.
“I saw two fighters who didn’t particularly care for each other, who fought very hard against each other,” Holland said. “There were some instances where each fighter fouled each other.”
Colon first motioned to referee Joe Cooper that he was getting hit in the back of the head — an illegal tactic called a rabbit punch — with roughly 45 seconds left in Round 1. The fighters were in a short clinch in the middle of the ring, and as Colon was ducking to get away, Williams landed a straight right. After pulling back, Colon pointed his right glove at the back of his head.
With two minutes left in Round 2, Colon connected with a right to the jaw, and Williams retaliated with a left that grazed the back of Colon’s head, causing him to fall to the canvas. Cooper ruled it a slip rather than a knockdown, and the fight resumed with Colon still in control.
Early in Round 7, Colon fell to his knees holding the back of his head with his right hand, showing the effects from absorbing a series of blows. Colon then dropped to all fours, putting both his gloves behind his head as fans began cheering and jeering.
Williams walked away from Colon and shook his head with an incredulous expression. Standing in a neutral corner, Williams tapped his gloves together and appeared to be telling Colon, “Let’s go.” Colon stumbled to his feet, holding his left glove on the back of his head as he moved to a neutral corner.
At that point, ringside physician Richard Ashby examined Colon and deemed him okay to continue. Cooper did, however, deduct a point from Williams for an illegal punch.
“There was no one who indicated that an injury persisted after the rabbit punch that caused Colon to go down,” Holland said. “He was checked by the doctor, the referee. He indicated he wanted to go on. The corner indicated after the round that there wasn’t anything wrong, so the fight continued.”
Then in the most bizarre sequence of the night, Colon’s corner began removing his gloves at the conclusion of Round 9. Eventually realizing there was another round left, Colon’s trainer attempted to put the fighter’s gloves back on, but too much time had passed, and Cooper signaled for the disqualification.
Colon began to experience dizziness and vomiting while in his dressing room after exiting the ring. Emergency medical technicians attended to Colon immediately, and he was transported to the hospital with his condition deteriorating.
It was the third fight in three months and fifth this year for the super welterweight. Such fighting frequency is not uncommon for young prospects trying to move up in their division and gain national exposure. More established boxers, however, generally don’t fight more than twice a year. Peterson, for instance, has fought seven times since December 2011.
Colon’s family, including his father and coach, Richard Colon, has been posting updates on his condition on the fighter’s official Facebook page. The family also organized a prayer vigil that was held Tuesday night in Colon’s home town of Orocovis, Puerto Rico.
Rick Maese contributed to this report.