De Chiara, 25, previously unbeaten in a 12-fight career, collapsed near the end of his 12-round contest against Vincenzo Imparato in the western Italian port of Massa on Saturday. He was carried out of the hall and taken to hospital in nearby Pisa, where doctors diagnosed major internal bleeding. Surgeons twice operated to remove blood that was putting pressure on his brain. They said his condition remained serious.
Despite a slight improvement after the procedures, De Chiara was fighting for his life, the chief of neurology, Dr Piergiorgio Caciagli, said. De Chiara's brain was "very swollen" and the boxer remained in a deep coma, he added.
Imparato, who had fought De Chiara several times as an amateur, said he had been stunned by the incident. "I would rather have lost the fight and the title than undergo these awful hours for a friend," he said.
Imparato said the fight should have been stopped in the 11th round and he did not understand why De Chiara's corner had failed to throw in the towel. "I could see he was exhausted and gasping for breath, weakened by fatigue," he added.Reuse content