Lopez fought Kambosos with air in chest: 'He could have died'

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Former lightweight champion Teofimo Lopez shouldn't have been medically cleared to fight George Kambosos, according to a doctor who examined Lopez and his medical records.

Doctors in New York diagnosed Lopez with pneumomediastinum - a condition that affects the respiratory system in which air is present in the chest between the lungs - after his Nov. 27 split-decision title loss, reports ESPN's Mark Kriegel, citing Lopez's medical records.

The doctors also found "extensive air" in the retropharyngeal space, a region in the head and neck, Kriegel added.

"He could have died, for sure," Dr. Linda Dahl, an otolaryngologist (ENT), told Kriegel. "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."

Dr. Peter Constantino, executive director of the New York Head and Neck Institute, agrees that Lopez was risking his life in the Kambosos fight.

"He's lucky he's not dead," Constantino told Kriegel. "I mean, really lucky."

Dahl said if Kambosos had hit Lopez in the neck or chest in "a certain way, in a certain place," the 24-year-old could have developed a collapsed lung and would have immediately been unable to breathe and needed a chest tube.

A small tear in Lopez's esophagus likely caused the air in his chest, according to Dahl and records of physicians who saw Lopez at New York-Presbyterian Hospital.

Constantino said Lopez likely "fast-stretched" his esophagus until he suffered a tear.

Lopez has asthma and tested positive for COVID-19 in June. He started to experience shortness of breath and swelling in the neck area the day before the fight.

"I thought it was just my asthma," Lopez told Kriegel when asked why he didn't mention his symptoms to his manager or the New York athletic commission before he fought.

Dahl said doctors wouldn't have detected Lopez's condition during the routine prefight exam, which occurred the day before the fight.

"If you listen with your stethoscope - as I did on (the following) Monday - his lungs sounded fine," Dahl said. "There's no way anybody could have diagnosed this without knowing how severe his symptoms were, then an X-ray and a CAT scan."

Lopez was discharged from the hospital Thursday but was advised not to fly for at least two weeks.

Kambosos pulled off the front-runner for upset of the year against Lopez - a 10-to-1 favorite who was previously undefeated - following a split-decision win in a 12-round battle that might also be a candidate for fight of the year.

Kambosos dropped Lopez in the first round, while Lopez scored his own knockdown in the 10th. Lopez said afterward he disagreed with the decision, but the fight was widely viewed as a clear-cut win for Kambosos, who now holds the WBO, WBA, and IBF lightweight titles.

"That was not me in there Saturday night," Lopez said.

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Lopez fought Kambosos with air in chest: 'He could have died'
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