NABF supermiddleweight champion Randie Carver died Tuesday, two days after losing consciousness in a title defense at Harrah's North Kansas City Casino. He was 24.
Carver, who had been in critical condition since undergoing emergency brain surgery late Sunday, went down in the 10th round of a 12-round bout with Kabary Salem. Family and friends had huddled at North Kansas City Hospital as Carver was kept on life support until he died Tuesday morning.
Salem's manager, Scott Massoud, was stunned by the news.
Carver, who was repeatedly head-butted in the early rounds of Sunday's fight, fell sluggishly to the canvas in the 10th round after taking an overhand right and a straight left from Salem. He tried on four occasions to get up, but could not even get up on his knees as he lost for the first time in his career.
After referee Ross Strada ruled a knockout, Carver's eyes appeared to go back in his head, and he lost consciousness. He was rushed to the hospital after paramedics worked on him for about 20 minutes in the ring. Carver did not appear to ever regain consciousness.
Carver's supporters were upset by the head butts. Strada said he warned Salem twice but ruled the head butts accidental.
According to North American Boxing Federation rules, a fighter can lose points for intentional head-butting, but he must be warned at least twice before he can be disqualified. Salem was not warned.
On Monday, Strada disputed the number of head butts some claim were delivered by Salem, who was penalized twice in the early rounds for holding.
"It was a hard fight to referee," Strada said. "But if there was something excessive, I would have stopped it."
Strada suggested Carver looked exhausted in the middle rounds.
"There weren't 20 hard punches thrown in the fight," Strada said. "I've never seen Randie that physically out of shape. But I can't call a fight because a fighter is tired. That's the job of (the fighter's) corner."
In the eighth round, Carver looked noticeably tired, and had a hard time getting off the ropes when Salem pushed him.
After the fight, Salem, 31, with a 12-1 record, expressed concern for Carver's well-being but had no regrets about the way he fought.
"It's his hometown, you know?" Salem said. "If it goes 12 rounds, he wins."
"I hope he's fine," he said. "I feel bad. What can I say? It's a fight."
Carver, who billed himself as "the Natural," was a former Golden Gloves champion who won the NABF super middleweight championship at the casino last year. He brought a 23-0-1 record to Sunday night's championship fight, which was televised on the Fox Sports Network.
Steven St. John, a close friend o Carver's who sometimes worked in his corner during fights, said Carver "was a kid who grew up the hard way, and he wanted to help kids grow up right."
"He honestly believed he could make a difference in their lives. As great a boxer as he was, he was an even greater person," St. John said.
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