NEW YORK -- When his lawyer introduced Magomed Abdusalamov at a news conference outside of Madison Square Garden on Monday, he said the former heavyweight contender had made a "miraculous recovery" from the tragic turn his life took at MSG nearly four years ago.
While in his wheelchair, the native of the Russian republic of Dagestan, wearing a zipped black warm-up jacket emblazoned with "MAGO" in white lettering, gave a thumbs up with his left hand after using it to fist bump attorney Paul Edelstein's right hand.
But the reality is that Abdusalamov, now 36, suffered life-altering brain damage from his Nov. 2, 2013, fight at the Garden and its aftermath and remains paralyzed on the right side, with his communication mostly limited to mumbles and gestures.
Edelstein called on New York state to set an example by adopting "Mago's Law" to improve safety for combat sports, primarily by lowering the threshold required before doctors would send boxers and MMA fighters to the hospital.
Abdusalamov had a swollen head, a gash above his eye, a suspected facial fracture and -- according to his handlers -- pain in the head and nausea after his brutal 10-round defeat vs. Mike Perez. Ringside doctors opted not to send him to the hospital, although an ambulance was available, and he eventually went by taxi.
Once in the hospital, Abdusalamov lost consciousness and was diagnosed with a blood clot in his brain. He required emergency surgery, suffered multiple strokes, and was in a coma for weeks.
Edelstein and his legal team settled a lawsuit 10 days ago for Abdusalamov and his family against New York State that will bring in $22 million -- believed to be the largest settlement of a single personal injury case the state has made. He said it would cost a fraction of that settlement to enact and adhere to stronger protective standards.
"We want to partner with the state for safety reform," Edelstein said. "These guys are left to their own means; that's what happened to Mago and we don't want to see it happen again."
Recommendations by the state inspector general, after a lengthy investigation of the Abdusalamov matter and of the New York State Athletic Commission, haven't been fully implemented and didn't go far enough, Edelstein said.
A lawsuit Edelstein filed for Abdusalamov and his family in state Supreme Court against the three ringside doctors who attended to him is still being pursued.
This was the first visit for Abdusalamov's wife to Madison Square Garden and his first since the night that left him unable to hold their three young daughters again.
Security guards almost put an abrupt end to Monday's proceedings, saying there had been no permission granted for filming on the private property. But they relented, Edelstein wrapped up and Bakanay Abdusalamova accompanied her husband as an aide wheeled him down a ramp to the Seventh Avenue sidewalk beneath the famous arena's marquee.