The Culture of Boxing: Seventh in a Series

By Ted Sares on April 1, 2012
The Culture of Boxing: Seventh in a Series
Jose Victor Burgos may have simply had too much heart for his own good (Chris Cozzone)

Maybe we assume that Burgos and Diaz will be all right, but that assumption is manifestly fallacious…

“Boxing is war, and in war you have to be prepared to die”—Gerald McClellan

Jose Victor Burgos (39-15-3)

“I told the fans there cannot be a celebration of my victory, I don’t want it. Everybody is praying for Victor Burgos and we wish him good luck…”—Vic Darchinyan

Jose Victor Burgos (alias El Acorazado) won the Mexico light flyweight title in 1995 and then garnered the WBA Fedecentro light flyweight title in 1997 by beating a young Jorge Arce. After losing three bids for the IBC super flyweight crown all in 1998, he won the far less prestigious WBO NABO light flyweight title in 2000 but lost it to Roberto Carlos Leya that same year. After going six straight without a defeat, he finally reached his dream of winning a world title when he stopped Alex Sanchez (29-2) to take the vacant IBF light flyweight title in 2003.

After a draw with Rosendo Alvarez (who himself had fought to a draw with the great Ricardo Lopez) and a stoppage win over Fahlan Sakkreein (54-3-2), Burgos relinquished his crown to Will Grigsby in 2005 at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. He then won two uneventful bouts before going up against a prime Vic Darchinyan (27-0) on March 3, 2007, at the Home Depot Center in Carson, California, challenging the power punching Armenian for his title in a match televised by Showtime.

“The Raging Bull” perpetrated more than 11 rounds of accumulating punishment (the worse kind) on “El Acorazado” until referee Jon Schorle halted the destruction in round 12. In round 11, Schorle checked on Burgos in the presence of his Inspector Dave Rasmussen and he (Burgos) was reported to be alert and willing to continue. Although Burgos clearly was losing the bout, he continually fought back, throwing punches and moving his feet. However, it had become clear he may have had too much heart for his own good as his efforts were deteriorating rapidly right up until the time of the stoppage.

In round 12 (the last round), Burgos appeared to have stumbled on his own feet and went down. Referee Schorle checked and asked him if he wanted to continue. He replied that he did. However, as he tried to move away, he wobbled badly and clearly was in no condition to continue. The referee quickly stopped the bout. In this instance, Schorle’s decision was a sound one under the circumstances. The decision to stop a fight is one of the most difficult decisions an experienced referee or ringside physician can render. Hindsight is 20/20.

After the fight was finally halted, Burgos slumped in his corner and quickly was taken from the ring wearing a neck brace on a stretcher and to Harbor-UCLA Medical Center in Torrance where doctors removed a blood clot from the swollen brain. He came out of a medically-induced coma.

Reportedly Southern California boxing publicist Alex Camponovo, a friend of the Burgos family residing in Tijuana, later said Burgos was still in rehabilitation. “He has had to re-learn everything. How to walk. How to talk.” There were sightings of Jose Victor in and around Tijuana and the reports about his condition were not good, but I could not corroborate this.

This all begs the question what exactly has happened to Jose Victor Burgos. Where is he? How is he? Is anyone looking out for him? Who is footing his medical bills?

Oscar Diaz (26-3)

“I would never wish what happened to Oscar upon anyone. Oscar is a great guy, and a great competitor. God bless him.”—Delvin Rodriquez

Oscar “ El Torito “Diaz, a brawler, engaged in an 11th-round TKO loss to Golden Johnson on Nov. 10, 2006, in a fight in which many wondered what part of a white towel Diaz’s corner didn’t understand.  As it was, Johnson ended up putting a terrible beating on Diaz. Certain people are placed in charge of protecting a boxer from undue punishment for a reason. The ringside physician, the referee, members of the state boxing commission, if they are present (Larry Hazzard always did this well), and, of course, a fighter’s corner (trainer, second, and cutman). Once a fighter crawls through the ropes, he (or she) puts his well-being in their hands. In a very real sense, a boxer’s life depends on them. In this instance, Oscar’s corner allowed him to take a bloody beating before referee Ruben Carrion halted the slaughter.

Diaz came back to win a unanimous eight-round decision against Roberto Valenzuela in May 2008 to set up a fight on July 16, 2008, with Delvin Rodriguez for the vacant regional USBA 147-pound title. The fight, which figured to be competitive, was held in Diaz’s hometown at the San Antonio Municipal Auditorium.

It turned out to be a grueling, physical battle between the brawling Diaz (26-3), 25, and Rodriguez (23-2-1), 28, but the hard hitting D-Rod appeared to take control at the midway point. However, during the course of the fight, there was plenty of give and take and no indication anything was wrong with El Torito. In fact, he was still throwing punches with malice aforethought. But entering the 10th round, Rodriquez’s slashing shots had taken their toll. Diaz looked tired and slow, with his right eye completely closed. As the 11th round was about to begin, Oscar seemed a bit shaky. Something was not right. He put his hands to his head and gave a strained moan before collapsing into unconsciousness.

Referee Robert Gonzalez immediately stopped the fight, declaring Rodriguez the winner by technical knockout. Doctors jumped into the ring to attend to the fallen fighter as the fans looked on in horror. A stretcher was quickly rushed into the ring and doctors began treating Diaz on the spot. Diaz was then taken out of the ring and rushed to the University Medical Center by ambulance.

“He’s got swelling and bleeding on the brain, he’s unconscious and on a ventilator,” Ron Katz of Rodriguez promoter Star Boxing told “It’s not good. Obviously, he’s in all of our prayers.”

“When he left the ring,” added Star Boxing’s Joe DeGuardia, “he was completely stationary and he didn’t look good.”

Within hours, neurosurgeon David Jimenez operated on the left side of Oscar’s head to relieve swelling on his brain. “The brain is back to its normal size and position, and the swelling has gone down,” promoter Donna Duva-Brooks said in a statement. But Diaz remained unconscious and in critical condition. He was in a coma and not breathing on his own after the surgery and recovery loomed as a long process.

Seven months later, Oscar Diaz was released from the hospital; he had remained hospitalized since awakening from a lengthy coma. Dr. Jimenez said he was optimistic that Diaz would be able to walk and talk again. However, Oscar suffered another setback when he contracted pneumonia and was forced to return to the hospital. “They had to remove a lot of fluid from his lungs,” family friend Gabriel Carlin said. “But he looked good. He was able to respond to everything I said…When he saw me, he started to cry.”

Reportedly, Diaz was transferred to a new rehabilitation facility, but after that there was no more news.

So once again, questions are raised about Oscar Diaz. Is he still in rehabilitation and if so, what’s the long range prognosis? Who is caring for him?

We fans are extremely concerned when boxers are severely damaged such as with Burgos and Diaz, but then, over a period of time, we seem to forget them. Maybe we assume that they will be all right, but that assumption is manifestly fallacious. They will never be all right; they will never be as they once were. Not when they have to relearn how to talk and walk.

Burgos and Diaz: How soon we forget.

The Culture of Boxing: First in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Second in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Third in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Fourth in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Fifth in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Sixth in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Seventh in a Series
The Culture of Boxing: Eighth in a Series

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Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Darchinyan vs Burgos - Rounds 1 - 2

Darchinyan vs Burgos - Rounds 3 - 4

Darchinyan vs Burgos - Rounds 5 - 6

Darchinyan vs Burgos - Rounds 7 - 8

Darchinyan vs Burgos - Rounds 9 - 10

Darchinyan vs Burgos - Rounds 11 - 12

Oscar Diaz Recovery Update (Alternate) - UTHSCSA Neurosurgery - KSAT 12

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  1. david 02:20pm, 01/26/2013

    I briefly met with Oscar a month before the fight.  He was dating my sister-in-law and we all had dinner.  He was telling my sister-in-law that he was having headaches and they would not go away,  he also missed his dad and wanted to win the fight for his dad.  He never backed down in the fight and with no doubt his corner would have never thrown in the towel.  This was the 3rd fight that should have been stopped but his corner did nothing about it cause they knew the power of his punches could change the fight.  That’s not good for fighter, he is a person not a piece of meat.  I feel for him and others that are not taken care of properly.

  2. Christian in Laredo 11:37pm, 11/27/2012

    Thanks for the articles Ted.  I was covering the Diaz-Rodriguez fight for at the time.  I was sitting at ringside.  It is without a doubt the most sad/disturbing thing I had ever seen in boxing.  Also, Diaz stunned Delvin and sent him reeling in the third.  Almost put him away, wish he did.  I had conducted interview with Oscar, and often saw him out on the SA scene.  Good guy, we talked several times.  Was picked up by Duvas who found him in the amateurs and taken from there.  Had a strong solid style.  Still do not wanna erase his number from my cell.  I also cannot find a update on his condition, hope he is doing ok.

  3. the thresher 02:33pm, 04/02/2012

    Joseph, I was shocked that Oscar could even fight again after the punishment he took against Golden Johnson. D-Rod was the wrong guy. D-Rod has ended many a career. He is a cutting and slashing type fighter.

  4. Joseph Herron 12:15pm, 04/02/2012

    Master Ted,

    Great article as usual!!  I was at the Delvin Rodriguez/Oscar Diaz fight at the Municipal Auditorium in SA, TX.  I remember thinking that there’s no way Oscar should have even taken that fight…it’s almost like a perfect storm and a product of a long series of unfortunate events for Oscar.  Almost like it was meant to be…makes you wonder.

  5. TEX HASSLER 12:00pm, 04/02/2012

    The stark reality is that boxing is an extremely dangerous sport. Some die after only a few fights. Referees need extensive training.

  6. the thresher 07:43am, 04/02/2012

    Thanks Irish. We geezers must stick together.

  7. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 07:22am, 04/02/2012

    Both Delvin and Vic are very nasty, punishing punchers and when they are put in with with Mexican warriors who are literally willing to fight to the death….this is what can happen.

  8. Irish Frankie Crawford Beat Saijo 07:03am, 04/02/2012

    Ted Sares-You are a power house….I was surprised to hear that you were were 25 at the time of the Kid Paret tragedy….I was only 22. Pugknows is right on re: your talent. Let’s face it when a fighter is landing punches on his opponent’s head and trying to KO him he’s really trying to concuss his opponent’s brain. In my view whether spoken out loud or not the goal in the pros is not so much to score points but to injure your opponent and get him the hell out of there.

  9. the thresher 06:20am, 04/02/2012

    This is a 2009 video.

  10. the thresher 06:05am, 04/02/2012

    Pug, it’s a labor of love.

  11. dollarbond 05:01am, 04/02/2012

    Wonderful and poignant read.

  12. pugknows 08:12pm, 04/01/2012

    Ted the Bull, you are a machine. How in God’s name can you turn these things out so often? My God, man, take a breather, but I do love them.

  13. the thresher 05:53pm, 04/01/2012

    “Boxing is the only sport where you can get you brain shook, your money took, and your name in the undertaker’s book”.—Joe Frazier.

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