According to a report by Mark Kriegel at ESPN, former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez was lucky to survive last Saturday’s fight with George Kambosos Jr after a post-fight medical evaluation found Lopez was suffering from a condition called pneumomediastinum with “extensive air in the retropharyngeal space.”
“He could have died, for sure,” said Dr. Linda Dahl, an otolaryngologist (ENT) with surgical privileges at three Manhattan hospitals. “How he breathed, I can’t even explain to you. It’s like somebody tied a 300-pound set of weights around his chest ... like his neck and chest were in a vise. That’s how he fought.”
Dahl has worked as a ringside physician for the New York State Athletic Commission and says Lopez placed himself at incredible risk heading into this fight, as they believe that the air that was found surrounding his chest wall and heart was a result of a small tear in his esophagus. Lopez reportedly began experience shortness of breath and swelling arround his neck shortly before the weigh-in but says he didn’t make any mention of it because he thought it was simply a symptom of his longtime asthma.
“I thought it was just my asthma. I fought through asthma before. 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.’”’
As for those who question why Lopez’s condition wasn’t detected in pre-fight medical evaluations, Dahl mentioned that there was no way anyone could’ve diagnosed Lopez’s condition without knowing how severe his symptoms were and then taking an X-ray and CAT scan.
Lopez insists that it wasn’t the ‘real him’ in the ring last Saturday night because he was so physically compromised, and now says he’s just trying to stay positive after having such a rough 2021. He also says his next fight will be at 140 lbs, as he has simply outgrown the lightweight division.