Anthony Joshua’s trainer Rob McCracken has denied claims he put the fighter’s life in danger by allowing him to fight on against Andy Ruiz Jr.
McCracken had suggested he believed AJ had a concussion when he came back to the corner at the end of the third round following a heavy knockdown, but decided not to stop the bout.
Joshua went on to lose in the seventh and the veteran trainer told the BBC: “I knew he was concussed and I’m trying to get him through a few more rounds, one round at a time, and see where he’s at.
“But he was glazy-eyed from when he got caught with that initial shot in round three and he carried that with him up until the end.”
Leading brain injury charity Headway described McCracken’s comments as a “shocking admssion”, and accused him of prioritising winning the fight over “protecting the fighter from a potentially fatal injury”.
But McCracken has now moved to clarify his remarks, and stressed the health of boxers under his instruction is “paramount.”
“In professional boxing, fighters inevitably take punches and have difficult rounds and when they come back to the corner it is your job as a coach to make a quick assessment of the situation,” he said.
“There is no formal concussion protocol where the Doctor steps in to assess the boxer so you have to use your experience as a coach and your knowledge of the person to make a decision on whether you think they can recover.
“I have had this a number of times in my career in professional boxing where boxers have recovered from a difficult round to go on and win the fight. I have also pulled boxers out of fights because I knew it was not in their interests to continue.
“I am not a Doctor and it may be that concussed is not the right term to have used but the health of all the boxers I work with is of paramount importance to me and I have always used my judgement and experience to do what is right for them.”
McCracken’s initial comments drew stinging criticism from Headway, whose deputy chief executive Luke Griggs said: “It’s a shocking admission but it’s highly unlikely that this is an isolated incident.
“Trainers have a duty of care to their boxers and it seems clear that Anthony Joshua’s trainer’s sole priority was winning that fight, not protecting the fighter from a potentially fatal injury.
“One wonders how many deaths in the ring over the years have resulted from a win-at-all-costs mentality.”