Magomed Abdusalamov, a title contender before he suffered a devastating brain injury in late 2013, is in stable condition in a Connecticut hospital with blood and bone infections that his wife said doctors describe as "life-threatening."
On Dec. 31 the former boxer from the Russian Republic of Dagestan was hospitalized for the fourth time in as many weeks, Bakanay Abdusalamova said, this time for sepsis and osteomyelitis, as doctors also attempt to treat recurring pressure ulcers in his lower back. Abdusalamov, 33, is bedridden and recently endured lung and urinary tract infections and surgery on a lesion.
Abdusalamova told "Outside the Lines" through an interpreter that on New Year's Day two years ago her husband ran around a hospital shedding tears of boundless joy in celebration of the birth that day of their youngest daughter, Patimat. "We were the happiest family in the world," Abdusalamova said.
Abdusalamov's struggles for survival began after he entered the ring at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 2, 2013, for what would be a bloody, HBO-televised bout with fellow undefeated heavyweight Mike Perez. Abdusalamov lost a 10-round decision and hours later underwent emergency surgery to remove a blood clot in his brain. He suffered strokes, was in a coma for weeks, spent 10 months in the hospital and left paralyzed on one side, unable to walk or to talk.
"Before this happened we were more than husband and wife, everything was perfect," Abdusalamova said as she fought off tears. "Now the children (Patimat and her two sisters, Shakhrizat, 8, and Saygibat, 5) always ask when he will be back to who he was and I hold out hope 'Mago' will at least be able to speak again and smile some more."
During the fight Abdusalamov suffered broken bones in his face and hand and a laceration above his eye that required suturing. His handlers said he was vomiting and unsteady as they tried to take him by taxi to an emergency room, after state athletic commission doctors neither summoned an on-site ambulance nor advised him to go to the hospital that night.
The New York State Inspector General announced within a week that it was starting an investigation. Fourteen months later, according to a spokesman, that probe is ongoing.
Abdusalamov's family sued the New York State Athletic Commission's five doctors, referee and inspector who handled the fight, as well as the Garden and K2 Promotions, the bout's lead promoter, alleging negligence and medical malpractice during and after the fight with Perez.
The Abdusalamov family's attorney, Paul Edelstein, told "Outside the Lines" he has not yet received Madison Square Garden surveillance footage, which could show signs of Abdusalamov's dangerous condition when he left the arena.
A February court date has been set on the Garden's motion to dismiss it as a defendant, Edelstein said.
In court papers filed in December he enumerated medical bills for Abdusalamov totaling $1.7 million through one year. And Edelstein said the developments of the past five weeks have been "a tremendous setback to his condition."
"Before last month," said Abdusalamova, "it seemed we were done with hospitals and focused on rehabilitation, but since he developed the infections he hasn't been alert or able to communicate and it's so agonizing that all of his progress stopped with these recent struggles."
As for her countless hours at the hospital with her three daughters and family friend Amin Suleymanov, she said, "It's hard to go through it emotionally when the doctors explain things and it's very frightening and shocking to think about what Mago is going through.
"But we always try to stay positive," the devout Muslim added. "We pray and hope for the best, as this is Mago, after all, and he is always a fighter."