Mexican boxer Francisco “Frankie” Leal died on Tuesday from complications stemming from a brain injury he suffered this weekend during a knockout loss to Raul Hirales.
The 26-year-old junior featherweight fought Hirales, 29, on the undercard of Saturday night's Omar Chavez-Joachim Alcine fight in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, ESPN reports. Hilares controlled the bout from the start, knocking Leal to the mat in the sixth round with a right hand. In the eighth round, he knocked the southpaw down with another blow to the head. Leal managed to struggle to his feet, but collapsed soon afterward and never regained consciousness.
Medical officials rushed to Leal’s side and took him out of the ring on a stretcher. He was admitted to a hospital in Cabo San Lucas, but later was transferred to a hospital in San Diego, where he slipped into a coma and died, ESPN reports.
"This hurts a lot," Fernando Beltran, a promoter for Saturday’s fight, told ESPN. “We knew that Frankie Leal was a good kid, a great fighter, a warrior in and out of the ring. As a company we took responsibility and tried to save his life as much as humanly possible. Now we are united in the grief felt by his family and his boxing family. We will try to help, whatever is needed.”
In March 2012, Leal’s career nearly came to an end after a similar incident occurred during a match with Russian boxer Evgeny Gradovich. The eventual featherweight world champion knocked Leal unconscious in the 10th round, and the Leal required a stretcher to exit the ring, ESPN notes. He would return to the ring and fight five more times before his death.
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"It hurts that this happened," Beltran added. "Our prayers are with his family. We knew that Leal was a fine young man. We will try our best to support his family in this difficult time."
A video of Leal's final match can be viewed below, courtesy of Deadspin. Be warned: the footage is graphic in nature.