A year ago this Sunday, Magomed Abdusalamov was an undefeated fighter, closing in on a shot at the world heavyweight title. But after going the distance in a defeat that night at Madison Square Garden, he suffered a blood clot in his brain, was in a coma for weeks and has never recovered the ability to walk or talk.
His wife, Bakanay Abdusalamova, who also is from the Russian Republic of Dagestan, told "Outside the Lines" on Thursday through an interpreter that she prefers to remember "Mago" as he was when he left for the Nov. 2 bout. She said she told him, "Good luck, don't take too many punches and win like you always do," adding that he "waved goodbye and smiled as he always did."
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 his bloody 10-round battle with Mike Perez.
Madison Square Garden acknowledged in legal papers filed last week that it has surveillance footage, including of the sidewalk area outside the arena. That's where Abdusalamov's handlers said he was vomiting and unsteady as they tried to take him by taxi to an emergency room, since commission doctors neither summoned an on-site ambulance nor advised him to go to the hospital that night. In the filing, the Garden's attorneys informed all parties to the suit -- including the eight other defendants -- that to see the footage they need to arrange a group appointment and they can obtain copies only after the in-person screening.
A spokesman for the Garden said the company had no comment on the case. The Garden and the other defendants have filed motions seeking full or partial dismissal of the suit.
"The video could be important in showing the physical manifestations of the brain injury," Abdusalamov family attorney Paul Edelstein said. "It's frustrating that this legal red tape is slowing things down."
Within a week of the fight, during which Abdusalamov suffered broken bones in his face and hand and a laceration above his eye that required suturing, the New York State Inspector General announced the start of an investigation. A spokesman said Thursday that the probe is ongoing.
Abdusalamov, 33, was brought home for the first time six weeks ago after more than 10 months of hospitalization and in-patient rehabilitation, following emergency brain surgery.
Edelstein said he now receives around-the-clock care from a home health aide. Still paralyzed on the right side, Abdusalamov has made "very small, very slow progress," his wife said.
Abdusalamova said she doesn't think her husband remembers the fight or realizes how bad his condition is.
"That may make it easier for him," she said. "But at times I want him to realize, because it would mean he's progressing and maybe it would help him achieve further improvement."
As she reflected on how one night last November forever changed the man she married, Abdusalamova said she takes some solace in the happy look on his face now that he's with their three daughters, all age 8 or younger.
"While the pain and sadness have been unimaginable, we've got to be patient and we know we can't change what happened," she said.