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“I think it’s broken,” he repeatedly said in Russian.
Maybe at that point, somebody – the referee, the ringside doctors, his handlers – should have stopped the fight, under a guiding principle: better one punch too early than one punch too late.
But in the first round, a hard forearm to his left cheek rocked him.
At the bell, he returned to his corner, and this time, he sat down.
His dark hair is kept just long enough to conceal the scars. He is a former heavyweight boxer who scored four knockouts and 14 technical knockouts in his first 18 professional fights. The air-pressure machine for his mattress hums like an expectant crowd.
The occasional sounds he makes are understood only by his wife, but he still has that punctuating left hand. Today is like any other day, except for those days when he is hurried in crisis to the hospital.
He was knocked down only once, and even then, it surprised more than hurt. It all led up to this: the undercard at the Garden, Mike Perez v Magomed Abdusalamov, 10 rounds, on HBO.But the bloody trade of blows continued into the seventh, eighth, ninth, a hand and orbital bone broken, his face transforming. After the final round, Perez raised his tattooed arms in victory, and Mago wandered off in a fog.Meanwhile, in the family’s apartment in Miami, Baka forced herself to watch the broadcast. He had taken 312 punches in about 40 minutes, for a purse of ,000.Photo: Angel Franco/The New York Times Mago is in the bedroom. The big man lies on a hospital bed with his bare feet scraping its bottom rail.His head is propped on a scarlet pillow, the left temple dented, the right side paralysed. This is Magomed Abdusalamov, 34, also known as the Russian Tyson, also known as Mago. But Mago lost his 19th fight, his big chance, at the packed Theater at Madison Square Garden in November 2013. Now here he is, in a small bedroom in a working-class neighbourhood in Greenwich, Connecticut, in a modest house his family rents cheap from a devoted friend.