Featherweight Boxer Braydon Smith Dies at Age 23

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured ColumnistMarch 16, 2015

Boxing gloves worn by Muhammad Ali and Sonny Liston are displayed in New York, Thursday, Feb. 19, 2015. Just months before the 50th anniversary of the heavyweight rematch between Ali and Liston, boxing fans are getting a chance to own a piece of one of the most hotly debated title fights of all time. Both pairs of gloves from the May 25, 1965, bout in Lewiston, Maine — won by Ali with a first-round knockout from what some saw as a
Seth Wenig/Associated Press

While the boxing world anxiously awaits the bout between Floyd Mayweather and Manny Pacquiao, we learned some sobering news on March 16 that puts the anticipation for any superfight into perspective.

Glen McCullough of The Chronicle reported that Toowoomba boxer Braydon Smith, 23, died in a Brisbane hospital following a unanimous-decision loss Sunday night to John Vincent Moralde.

Smith's passing has inevitably drawn renewed focus on the safety of the sport. 

Medics Call for Boxing Ban in Australia

Tuesday, March 17

Australian Medical Association Queensland President Shaun Rudd has called for Australia to turn its back on boxing, telling ABC—as reported by Reuters via the Daily Mail the sport is not safe:

We believe that a so-called sport where two people knock each other in the head as often as you possibly can to win a bout seems rather barbaric.

You're not allowed to hit the organs beneath the belt whereas you're allowed to hit the organ above your shoulder which is the most important organ in the body.

However, Boxing Queensland President Ann Tindall took an alternative view:

It's a tragic accident, a tragic accident as you can have in a car or any other sport, there are many sports that have deaths in them.

We don't believe we're immune, but at the same time we don't believe it's the boxing that's going to actually harm any of our youngsters.

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Smith Loses Battle in Hospital

Monday, March 16

Smith was undefeated as a featherweight heading into the fight, which took place at Rumours International in Toowoomba, Australia. He was airlifted to a hospital afterward, according to Ryan Songalia of The Ring.

Kieran Wagstaff @KieranWagstaff

Heaven gained a champion boxer and champion bloke. Gone too soon #PrayForBrayd http://t.co/godNMoK4TN

Songalia painted a scary scene: "According to a source at the fight, the previously unbeaten 23-year-old Smith looked 'white as a ghost' as he held an ice pack to his head while sitting in the dressing room following the 10-round fight."

Songalia's report also noted that Moralde, who is undefeated at 12-0, was landing "uppercuts at will" and that "Smith was wobbled once in the ninth round but never exhibited signs of being imperiled enough to have the fight stopped."

After Smith was taken to the hospital, Moralde commented on the disheartening news, via Songalia: "I'm very saddened to hear of Braydon's condition, but I am praying for his full recovery. My prayers are with his family."

According to McCullough, Smith was able to take part in a post-fight ring interview before falling ill.

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