Boxer in critical condition after fight

Stephan Johnson was on a respirator and in critical condition after he was knocked out in the 10th round by USBA junior middleweight champion Paul Vaden on Saturday night.

Stephan Johnson was on a respirator and in critical condition after he was knocked out in the 10th round by USBA junior middleweight champion Paul Vaden on Saturday night.

Dr Rick Semper, a ringside physician who was briefed by doctors at the Atlantic City Medical Center, said doctors believe there is blood collected between Johnson's brain and skull.

"It is compressing the brain so they are evaluating what they are going to do," Semper said. "This is a major injury. This is the worst kind of thing that can happen to a boxer. On the other hand, they could take it out and he could be fine."

Johnson was expected to undergo surgery early Sunday morning.

"Until he walks out of here, we won't know," trainer Kenneth Woods said. "His life is more important than some belts. Belts come and go. You only have one life."

Woods said doctors want to insert a tube in Johnson's brain to relieve some of the pressure.

"A nurse came out and said they're just trying to keep him alive," said Willie Ross, the fiance of Johnson's mother, who was at the hospital with the fighter.

Johnson and Vaden were exchanging punches in the middle of the ring when Vaden landed a stiff jab and Johnson staggered backward. Vaden missed with a big right, but landed a left to the head and Johnson went down. The back of his head hit the lower strand of rope and the upper part of his body landed on the apron.

Johnson was taken from the ring on a stretcher.

"He took a bad hit on that last one," said Dr Charles Wilson, who accompanied Johnson. "He looked like he might have seized when he hit the ground."

Johnson's mother and Ross also left in the ambulance.

"The seizure suggests a form of brain damage," Semper said.

Woods said Johnson had a similar reaction after a fight in April against Fitzroy Vanderpool. The fighter was taken to a hospital and released after several hours. He was given a clean bill of health and won two fights since then, Woods said.

Neither fighter appeared to be in trouble through the first nine rounds, and then in the 10th, Johnson suddenly staggered back from a jab. He was also moving backward, and appeared to be falling, when Vaden landed a left to the head.

Referee Earl Morton started a count, but stopped at four and medical personnel rushed into the ring.

After several moments, Johnson was given oxygen, strapped to a stretcher, taken from the ring and then taken to the hospital.

"It doesn't look good," Wilson said "He's still breathing, but it's shallow. He's very slow responding, he's semi-conscious."

After nine rounds, Johnson was ahead on two of the three official scorecards.

The scheduled 12-round fight was on the undercard of the Michael Grant-Andrew Golota heavyweight bout in an arena at the Trump Taj Mahal.

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