Teofimo Lopez's life was legitimately at stake during his bout against George Kambosos Jr. at Madison Square Garden on Nov. 27.
Dr. Linda Dahl, an otolaryngologist, told ESPN's Mark Kriegel that Lopez "could have died" because he was competing with pneumomediastinum and had "extensive air in the retropharyngeal space" that doctors found after he went to the emergency room following the bout.
Dr. Dahl added she "can't even explain" how Lopez was able to breathe with that condition.
"It's like somebody tied a 300-pound set of weights around his chest ... like his neck and chest were in a vise," she said. "That's how he fought."
The doctor also said had Lopez been hit in a certain way on his neck or chest, his lung could have collapsed and he "would have instantly been down and unable to breathe and needing a chest tube."
Lopez told Kriegel he didn't disclose to the New York State Athletic Commission that he was dealing with shortness of breath and swelling in the neck area before the weigh-in because he assumed it was his asthma acting up.
"I fought through asthma before," he said. "If I told everybody, they would've canceled the fight. But I chose not to, because of the amount of pressure I was under. I didn't want to hear people say, 'Oh, another postponement.'"
Teofimo Lopez @TeofimoLopez
(ONLY ATHLETES) Understand the amount of pressure we deal with on a daily basis. My health isn’t an excuse but a FACT! I almost died for people who could care less about us but only 💲💰.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MoreThanAnAthlete?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#MoreThanAnAthlete</a> <br><br>Thank you, God, for blessings me with extra Life for my/your son! 🙏☦️ <a href="https://t.co/Zx07b5eel8">pic.twitter.com/Zx07b5eel8</a>
Lopez lost a split decision to Kambosos in a bout for the WBA, IBF, WBO and The Ring lightweight titles. It was the first defeat of his professional boxing career.
The Brooklyn native entered the bout with a 16-0 record and 12 knockouts. He was fighting for the first time since Oct. 2020 when he defeated Vasiliy Lomachenko to retain the IBF lightweight title and win the WBA (Super), WBO and The Ring lightweight championships.