Mexican boxer Jeanette Zacarias Zapata was hospitalized Saturday evening in critical but stable condition after being knocked out by Quebecer Marie-Pier Houle.
Yvon Michel, president of Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), the organizer of the event, said in a press briefing Sunday that the 18-year-old woman was placed in a medically induced coma to sedate her and relax her body and brain.
“She didn’t regain consciousness,” Michel said. “She was sedated in order to rest her body and her brain.”
“The doctors didn’t give her much of a chance (to get out) initially, but they find her situation has improved a lot. The next two to five days will be critical and she will be kept sedated for that period. The next six weeks will then be critical in determining if there is damage and how much damage it has,” Michel said.
The incident occurred at the end of the fourth round in a fight Saturday presented as part of a gala organized by GYM at Montreal’s IGA stadium. Trapped in a corner with seconds to go on the throw-off, Zapata suffered a series of power punches. After a solid uppercut from the left, the Mexican seemed stunned. A final right hook caused Zapata’s mouthguard to fly out and left her unable to return to her corner after the bell rang. Seized by convulsions while still standing, Zapata was joined by her partner and trainer Jovanni Martinez, who quickly laid her down in the ring. The on-site medical team rushed to her side and she was immobilized on a stretcher before being lead to an ambulance and taken to hospital.
Martinez did not immediately realize the gravity of the situation. “I only realized the magnitude of the situation after seeing her,” said Martinez, who had fought himself earlier in the evening. “I wish it had happened to me instead of Jeanette; I am frustrated.”
“Jeanette and I had come to have a good fight. Her fight was going very well; it happened very quickly. It’s a shame, but boxing is also that.”
Houle, who was credited with a technical knockout victory, could not be blamed for the incident: referee Albert Paduano Jr. did not interfere and the bell signalling the end of the round had not sounded. After a brief celebration of her victory, she was a helpless witness to the whole post-fight scene.
“This is not the thing you want to see,” she said after the fight. “I was definitely going for the knockout, but I would have preferred her to come out on her feet, not lying on a stretcher. We’re keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes well.”
Reached by The Canadian Press on Sunday, Houle, extremely shaken, preferred not to comment.
Minutes after the fight, as is the norm in such situations, the gloves and tape used to bandage Houle’s hands were seized by the Régie des Alcools des Courses et des Jeux (RACJ), “in order to exonerate Houle in this case,” said a person familiar with the matter. As with every combat sports event, the RACJ will evaluate all the fights on Saturday.
The fight between Houle and Zacarias Zapata will be further investigated.