'Nobody wanted this': Adam Braidwood offers condolences to Tim Hague's family
'We just wanted to make a beautiful fight for everyone,' boxer says in emotional video statement
The boxer responsible for delivering a punch that proved fatal for Tim Hague is speaking out on the death of his opponent for the first time.
Adam Braidwood choked back tears as he offered condolences to the family of the Alberta heavyweight, father and school teacher.
"I haven't made a statement because I didn't know what I could say or do that would help in any way," Braidwood said in an emotional video statement posted to his Instagram account on Monday night.
Hague, a former mixed martial arts fighter, was knocked down three times before a left uppercut in the second round put him on the canvas and the fight was called off.
Transported to hospital in critical condition, he underwent surgery to relieve bleeding on the brain.
He died Sunday.
Everybody saw me celebrating but nobody saw me pick up Tim and carry him to the corner and tell him that I love him- Adam Braidwood
Braidwood, 33, said Hague was a close friend and a warrior who will live in his heart "forever."
"All the theatrics leading up to this. Tim and I were friends," Braidwood said. "We just wanted to make a beautiful fight for everyone and that's what this was all about.
"Everybody saw me celebrating but nobody saw me pick up Tim and carry him to the corner and tell him that I love him."
Braidwood thanked his fans for their support and urged them to support the Hague family as they grieve.
"I just want everyone to try and help Tim's family. That's what this should really be about. Instead of leaving a comment, contact his family," Braidwood said.
"Help them in any way that you can and let's try to leave it at that. You know, nobody wanted this."
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Hague's death came less than a month after boxer David Whittom went into a coma with bleeding on the brain after a knockout loss in Fredericton, N.B.
The two cases have raised calls for improvements in rules to ensure the safety of fighters in boxing and mixed martial arts.
Edmonton's Combative Sports Commission is investigating the fatal fight, and the city announced on Monday that it will launch an independent review.
'A fighter always believes he's OK'
Hague (1-3 as a boxer, 21-13 in MMA), a heavy underdog who accepted the fight on only two weeks notice, was knocked down three times, while another trip to the canvas was ruled a slip, in the first round against Braidwood, who had an 8-1 record.
Referee Len Koivisto stopped the bout after two more knockdowns in the second round.
Veteran boxing trainer Stephan Larouche said fighters often have to be protected from themselves because they won't stop even if they are losing badly, and they want to continue their careers even if they've lost a few bouts in a row.
"A fighter always believes he's OK," said Larouche, who took Lucian Bute, Eric Lucas and other boxers to world titles. "They believe that if they stop for a year or whatever that they're OK, but the punches they took remain."
When he was fighting for UFC, Hague once said: "You can turn my face into mashed potatoes and I'll keep going.''
Former World Boxing Organization middleweight champion Otis Grant of Montreal said boxing commissions need strict rules in place that would bar fighters who have suffered a run of knockouts from getting back in the ring.
"Sometimes you've got to save the boxer from himself," said Grant, adding that boxing commissions have a duty to "do a little research into who fights in their jurisdiction and if they see a guy has two or (knockout) losses in a row, then refuse him."
A heavyweight trained in jiu-jitsu, Hague put his teaching career on hold to make his pro MMA debut in 2006.
His first UFC fight came in May 2009 at UFC 98 — a submission win over Pat Barry in the first round. He competed on three more UFC cards by May 2010, dropping all three bouts.
His final pro MMA fight was in July 2016. He compiled a 21-13 MMA record before switching to boxing.
He had been knocked out in his previous boxing match in December.
Boxing deaths are rare in Canada.
The most notable was Cleveland Denny, who died 16 days after being knocked out by Gaetan Hart on the undercard of the Brawl In Montreal between Sugar Ray Leonard and Roberto Duran in 1980.
With files from the Canadian Press