Last month Brandon Figueroa and Damien Vazquez engaged in an exciting battle for the WBA super bantamweight title at the Mohegan Sun in Uncasville, Connecticut on a high profile Showtime pay-per-view event. The first few rounds had tremendous two-way action as both fighters landed several clean shots.
Unfortunately, that all changed in the 4th round as Figueroa began landing several rabbit punches. The rabbit punches began to take their toll and after the middle rounds it was clear that Vazquez wasn’t himself. The fight ended up being stopped in the 10th round.
“I can’t remember much after the third round,” Vazquez said after the fight. “My head was so swollen and I had lumps all over the back of my head. I am just thankful that I feel better now and that my CT scan came out clean.”
When the illegal punches began connecting, Vazquez’s father and co-trainer Oscar repeatedly pleaded with the referee to admonish Figueroa. In what appears to be a gross case of negligence, the referee failed to issue a single warning to Figueroa for his habitual rabbit punching.
After the Prichard Colon tragedy in 2015 and more recently with up and coming fighter Shawn Simpson injured by a rabbit punch with 16 ounce gloves in sparring, it is imperative that the sport cleans up these dangerous and illegal punches.
That starts with the referees that are in charge of the action and Gary Rosato, who is a veteran referee, failed to protect Vazquez from the illegal punches. Prior to the fight, Vazquez’s team even specifically told Rosato to keep an eye out for the illegal blows.
In an effort to help prevent another tragedy from occurring in the future, Vazquez has retained the services of John Strafaci, Esq. who specializes in Tribal Law and has won several high profile cases in the region. He has filed an appeal to the Mohegan Tribal Department of Athletic Regulation.
“We are filing this appeal on behalf of Damien, based on egregious illegal punches that happened throughout the course of the fight that should have never happened. The ref should have taken action early on and stopped the fouls that clearly affected the outcome of the fight. These illegal and dangerous punches put this young man in the hospital and caused him serious injury. This needs to be addressed because the next fighter may suffer worse injuries than Damien has suffered,” said Strafaci.