Tim Hague 'shouldn't have been in the ring,' critic says of fatal boxing match
'There was plenty of opportunities to step in there and call the fight off,' says sports journalist Mike Bohn
Tim Hague, the Edmonton boxer who died Sunday from a traumatic brain injury sustained during a match on Friday, should never have been allowed back in the ring, says a national commentator on the sport.
"It was just very sad to see the fact that it even got to that point," said Mike Bohn, a sports journalist and regular contributor to USA Today and Rolling Stone.
"He shouldn't have been in the ring and the fight shouldn't have been allowed to go on as long as it did.
"There was plenty of opportunities to step in there and call the fight off well before he got knocked out cold."
'Tough to watch'
Hague, a former mixed martial arts fighter, was knocked down four times in less than two rounds in a fight against former Edmonton Eskimos defensive end Adam Braidwood.
In the second round, a left uppercut put Hague on the canvas, unconscious.
Hague, 34 was transported from the Shaw Conference Centre in critical condition. The father and school teacher died in hospital Sunday
Officials at the match should have intervened after the first round, said Bohn.
"He was knocked [down] a few times in the first round and then, in the second round, he gets hit with a shot that just puts him out cold," Bohn said in an interview Monday with Edmonton AM.
"The fall to the ground was very tough to watch. He hits his head off the canvas and it shouldn't have even got to that point."
Bohn describes the bout as a serious mismatch that shouldn't have happened. Hague had a history of concussions.
A heavyweight trained in jiu-jitsu, Hague put his teaching career on hold to make his pro MMA debut in 2006.
Hague compiled a 21-13 MMA record before switching to boxing after his final pro MMA fight in July 2016.
Nicknamed "The Thrashing Machine," Hague spent 10 years in UFC and other mixed martial arts circuits before he was cut from the UFC roster in 2011.
After his release, he wrote on his Facebook page that he needed time to heal from a concussion.
Before Friday's bout with Braidwood, Hague had fought only three boxing matches. He lost two of them, and in his most recent bout in early April He lost by TKO to Jared Kilkenny.
Bohn questions why the heavyweight wasn't under an extended medical suspension, restrictions which are considered the norm after multiple concussions.
"It was just bevy of errors," said Bohn. "He had been stopped in multiple fights leading up to this.
"And usually when you suffer defeat, especially by strike out, you get a 60 to 90 day medical suspension just as a precaution."
'The questions are all there'
The heavyweight match was scheduled last minute. Hague stepped up to fight Braidwood after two other fighters dropped out.
He had only a few week's notice to train.
"Tim Hague — I don't mean this in a condescending way — but he was more or less a journeyman who was trying to support his family," Bohn said.
"It's pretty obvious that this fight came together and Hague accepted it because he needed the money and that's a sad reality of combat sports as a whole."
The promoter, KO Boxing, issued a statement Monday, stating they were deeply saddened at Hague's death.
"I have had a relationship with Tim for over a decade through the sport of boxing and MMA," reads the statement from promoter, Mel Lubovac. "He was more than a boxer, he was a friend. I truly cannot express how heavy my heart is."
Tweets from the KO Boxing paint a troubling picture of the match.
The Edmonton Combative Sports Commission, which regulates professional combative sports events in the city, will be investigating the fight by requesting reports from all referees, ringside judges, physicians, chief inspector, paymaster and the presiding inspectors assigned to the bout.
Fighters, especially novice competitors, are always willing to take a risk, Bohn said, and the sports commission needs to be held accountable.
"These fighters are just that. They're fighters. They have this certain mentality that they can always win the fight no matter what the circumstance," he said.
"Why did they sanction this fight? Did they do the proper medical analysis? The questions are all there, they need to tell us how they handled this from beginning to end."