If there was ever a time to use the phrase, ‘that’s one to tell the grandkids,’ then it’d be the image of Stephen Smith attempting to continue his fight with Francisco Vargas despite his right ear dangling off.
Spewing with blood, the Liverpudlian’s ear was nearly ripped off after an altercation at the Mandalay Bay as Vargas charged in with his head to clash with Smith in the ninth round.
Referee Russell Mora looked on in horror before halting the contest, with ‘Swifty’ losing his fourth professional fight via the scorecards (89-82, 88-83, 88-83).
Incredibly, Smith was unaware of the injury being so severe and admitted he was confused to why the referee had called the doctor to his corner.
“The referee called time during the round and I thought it was a cut on the head, I felt blood coming down me, but I just thought it was from the head. I couldn’t understand why he had called for a doctor, I was like, ‘I’m fine, what’s the problem?’ And then when I turned to the corner, and Joe (Gallagher) had his two hands on his head and I then looked up to the screen and saw it for myself,” Smith exclusively told World Boxing News.
Smith was rushed to hospital to have his ear repaired and the surgery has been successful. Updating WBN n his recovery, he said: “It’s okay to be honest, it’s a little sore but I got it stitched up to keep compressed so it doesn’t go into a cauliflower ear. I’m really happy with the job done by the plastic surgeon, they’ve done unbelievable.
“The nurses and everyone in the hospital were brilliant, I can’t thank them enough.”
Picture by SwiftySmith3 – Instagram
On his recovery time, Smith added: “I’m not too sure but it won’t be too long as it isn’t as serious as something like an eye injury. I will be looking to have a nice Christmas and then get back in the gym after the new year.”
As they fought on the same night, Smith’s efforts continue to be compared to Guillermo Rigondeaux’s decision to pull out against Vasyl Lomachenko, which has seemed laughable to many.
The Cuban remained on his stool after being dominated for six rounds, citing a hand injury as the reason for his struggles during the fight.
Due to being rushed to hospital, Smith hasn’t had time to watch the fight, but he can understand the fans frustration towards Rigondeaux’s retirement from the super-fight.
“At end of day they paid a lot of money to watch the fight. If I’d have spent money to go to New York and paid for flights, a hotel and brought my wife or son then I’d have been devastated myself.
“I would have been fuming so I understand the fans frustrations. If he’s pulled out because of a sore hand then it’s an absolute injustice.
“But I haven’t watched the fight, so I can’t comment too much on it, I’m a massive fan of both of them and you don’t get given two gold medals for nothing.
“Rigondeaux is a fantastic fighter but Lomachenko is a freak. He’s a special, special talent,” he concluded.
Joe Hewlett is lead writer for World Boxing News. Follow Joe on Twitter @Hewlett95