Doctor says welterweight likely to survive brain injury

Updated: July 19, 2008, 12:28 AM ET
By Dan Rafael | ESPN.com

Welterweight Oscar Diaz, who underwent brain surgery Wednesday night after being injured in a fight against Delvin Rodriguez, remains in a coma but is expected to survive.

"The brain is back to its normal size and position, and the swelling has gone down," said Donna Duva-Brooks, Diaz's promoter, who has been with Diaz at San Antonio's University Hospital since he collapsed after the 10th round of his ESPN2-televised "Wednesday Night Fights" main event. "He was operated on within two hours of the injury and the doctor said it was of great benefit how fast they were able to get him to the hospital.

"Oscar's vital signs are good and he has been showing slight improvement each day. Doctors say it could take up to a week to come out of the coma. We are encouraged by the news that the swelling in his brain is gone and we're all praying for him and taking it day by day."

Dr. David Jimenez, the neurosurgeon who performed a two-hour craniotomy on the left side of Diaz's head, said he was pleased with his progress.

"Overall, I think ultimately he should survive the injury and should recover," The Associated Press quoted him as saying. "I think the fact that he's young, the fact that he's healthy, the fact that he doesn't have a whole lot of medical problems, is on his side,"

"He's gone through the most severe stage, which is good," Jimenez told the San Antonio Express-News. "But one has to be aware it could still turn at any time. Everything is exactly where we want it to be."

Tommy Brooks, Duva-Brooks' husband, trains Diaz and her father, Lou Duva, manages him. They're all taking the injury hard, she said.

"We're all devastated by this," Duva-Brooks said. "He's been a son to us for the past 12 years and we hope and pray he recovers from this injury."

Diaz' mother, Theresa, said she has been lifted by the outpouring of support from well-wishers.

"We've been overwhelmed by the love and support we've received from everyone," she said. "It's helped us stay strong for Oscar during this difficult time."

Diaz (26-3, 12 KOs), 25, was fighting in front of his hometown fans at San Antonio's Municipal Auditorium but trailing badly against Rodriguez (23-2-1, 14 KOs). Diaz's right eye was swollen shut and he had taken numerous hard blows during the second half of the fight. After the 10th round, he collapsed in his corner and was rushed to the hospital.

Rodriguez, 28, aware of what was happening, tempered his celebration despite it being an important victory for him.

"I am praying for Oscar and his family and will continue to pray for him," he said after the fight. "I ask everyone else to pray for him. Oscar was the toughest guy I ever fought. As excited as I am right now, this is also hard for me. I would never wish what happened to Oscar upon anyone. Oscar is a great guy, and a great competitor. God bless him."

Dan Rafael is ESPN.com's boxing writer.

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