Prichard Colon Needs To Be Heard
by Marc Londo & Mohamad Elmahmoud
Photo Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images
As I compose this piece on Prichard Colon with Main Course boxing analyst Mohamad Elmahmoud, I can relate to Sir Isaac Newton in those moments before the apple fell from the tree. At this very moment, Prichard ‘Digget’ Colon lays in a hospital bed in Fairfax, Virginia, in wait of his own proverbial apple to fall and wake him from a coma he’s been in since fighting Terrel Williams on October 17th. Prichard has been a regular feature in Main Course since his northeast debut on the undercard of Danny Garcia - Rod Salka. With his flamboyant outfits, inspired by his countryman Hector Camacho, and a vivacious spirit that punctuates his flashy combination of speed and power with a smile; Prichard’s debut quickly became a focus of our coverage, as Team Colon reflected the collective drive that propelled boxers like Danny Garcia and Felix Trinidad into the mainstream.
Photo Credit: Pedro Diaz
Before I go further into this story, I want to ask anyone who’s reading this piece to click the ‘share’ button at the end of the page, or cut and paste this article to your social media. The reason I’m asking now is because this is a story that transcends sports and the ‘gravity’ (to build on the apple metaphor) of what happened to Prichard should serve as a wake-up call that we all must heed. Prichard isn’t the only one resting right now. Somewhere out there is another Sir Newton in the boxing world, with an apple hanging over his head; who needs to learn from the events of October 17th, and devise greater checks and balances, so that other boxers don’t get endangered from a system that errs on the side of disbelief when a pugilist says he is injured (or is in pain because of a foul). The fact that it took a coma for the boxing world to hear Prichard Colon inevitably leads the ‘elephant in the room’ to ask, “Who is really asleep here?”
Perspectives on Prichard’s Injury from Mohamad Elmahmoud
So far, many people have spoken about what possibly went wrong in the bout between Prichard Colon and Terrel Williams, except the three major figures involved, which include referee Joe Cooper. Prichard is obviously the principal figure and he is not able to speak about what he experienced in the ring that night. Prichard’s testimony was captured by ‘PBC on NBC’ cameras. For the record, I have watched all of Prichard Colon’s professional fights - up to this point in his career. And, in all of the rounds that amounts to, I’ve never seen him respond the way he did to the behind-the-head, i.e. “rabbit”, punch that Williams landed as they were being separated at the 47 second mark of Round 1. As I recall, Prichard was leaning forward, and as referee Joe Cooper said “let him go,” Williams overhand punched him on the back of the head, like spike in volleyball. It set a tone for what was to come later.
Picture Credit: NBC/Premier Boxing Champions
Make no mistake, this is a sport of inherent danger and it is well-known that you must guard yourself at all times. But, what if you protected yourself and you identify the fouls that keep occurring, and nothing is done? After that first memorable ‘spike’, Prichard’s face turned pink and he winced; waving his glove in protest. As I was not used to seeing Prichard respond that way (he is naturally very relaxed), I had a very bad feeling. For his part, referee Joe Cooper stayed silent. He didn’t acknowledge the blow. And, when that scenario repeated 21 seconds later, Cooper was facing Prichard and said nothing. It established the pattern of the fight. The inaction of Cooper let Williams mount an offense around the rabbit punches – as well as the threat of them - as Prichard was left to compensate for the referee. He couldn’t protect the back of his head and his face at the same time, and Williams went to the face when Prichard guarded his injured head.
Prichard Colon hasn’t left Fairfax, Virginia, since October 17th. To assist with the medical bills, the family has set up a go-fund-me page at www.gofundme.com/pw6yxj6w. Having covered Prichard Colon’s career since his debut at the Barclays Center, we ask that you ‘like’ and ‘share’ this article and go-fund-me page to let Prichard know that he is finally being heard. There is enough responsibility to go around and it’s time for some recourse. To date, referee Joe Cooper, Terrel Williams, and Virginia Boxing Commissioner David Holland, have said little about their roles in this series of events. However, previous opponents of Williams have reached out to the Colon family with their own detailed accounts of his use of rabbit punches in their fights. A YouTube search of Williams’ earlier fights corroborates their stories with grainy footage that ominously foreshadows the Colon fight. His rabbit punch KO of Marqus Jackson is particularly alarming.
Photo Credit:"Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Behind the head punches are by definition illegal in the sport of boxing. Nevertheless, in the “its only cheating if you get caught” world of prizefighting, behaviors shown by boxers like Terrel Williams seep through the cracks. The referee in his Marqus Jackson bout was just as blind to those shots as Joe Cooper. Thankfully, after Jackson went down holding his head like Prichard, he was counted out and sustained no further punishment. In a bout that saw Terrel Williams average between 3-to-4 rabbit punches per round, Joe Cooper didn’t issue a single warning despite the repeated protests from Colon. However, when Colon responded in the 5th Round with a low blow, Cooper deducted 2 points from his score (without warning him), which reduced Prichard’s lead in the fight and ensured he would have to engage even more with Williams down the stretch.
It was turning into a perfect storm. Prichard responded to the point penalty by asking Cooper, “How about my head?” Cooper pointed at him and shouted, “You take care of it! You take care of it!” When Williams finally floored Prichard with another overhand volleyball spike to the back of the head in the 7th Round, Cooper stood over Colon’s flailing body and said “get up, come on.. get up.” The ‘PBC on NBC’ television commentators recognized that it was an illegal behind-the-head punch but questioned if there were “theatrics” involved in Prichard Colon going to the floor. Eventually, Cooper brought the ringside physician over to the corner and deducted a point from Williams, who he had never warned before. After telling the ringside physician that he felt “dizzy” from the rabbit punches, Colon went on to fight two more rounds.
Photo Credit: "Patrick Smith/Getty Images
Triangulating Responsibility and Taking Action
Now to the big ‘elephant in the room’… There was a lot said during the fight, and very little said after the fight, about the “theatrics” of Colon as he was trying to recover from being rabbit punched. Virginia Boxing Commissioner David Holland even went to the apron of the ring and had a conversation with Prichard and his corner, in which they were told “not to engage in stall tactics.” The gist of the conversation is currently being reviewed by the Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation in Virginia as part of an internal investigation. For the corner of Colon, the implication was made very clear. Holland wanted him to stop “faking” and continue the bout. Up to that point, Prichard Colon’s repeated protests of the illegal punches was clearly witnessed by an international audience (since Round 1), and the obvious symptoms of his subsequent coma were taken so lightly that he was pressured to return to the fight.
After getting floored by another overhand volleyball spike to the back of the head at the end of the 9th Round, which was also ruled a knockdown by Joe Cooper, Prichard walked to his corner and his team started cutting off his gloves. It was later explained as an act of confusion in the corner of Team Colon, who stated that they believed it was the final round. However, it was inevitably an act of compassion. Were they the only ones that heard Prichard Colon that night? When Joe Cooper saw that Colon’s gloves had been taken off, he quickly declared it was a “stall tactic” and disqualified him. Not happy with being awarded a disqualification win, Terrel Williams shook his head to the television camera and declared “knockout!” It was all semantics at that point; just like Marqus Jackson, Prichard Colon’s name was put in his win column.
Once the adrenaline from the bout wore off, Prichard’s body began to turn on him and he started vomiting in his dressing room. He was quickly taken to Inova Fairfax Hospital where he remains in a coma after doctors drilled a hole in his head to alleviate the cranial pressure. It’s been 12 days. This morning his father Richard reported that he had strong tremors and his fever climbed to 103.1. Everyone is just waiting for Prichard to wake up. And, as the show has gone on in the boxing world, we’re still waiting for Prichard Colon to be heard. While the NFL debates over what further rules to implement to protect against severe head trauma to their players, it would save lives and careers if the powers-that-be in boxing would enforce the rules currently in place. The fighter should not have to “take care of it,” in regards to repeated rabbit punches. There is no place in the sport for repeat offenders like Terrel Williams and enablers like Joe Cooper.
Picture Credit: Suzanne Teresa/Premier Boxing Champions
Somewhere there’s an apple dangling from a tree, just waiting to wake some people up. Let’s all show Prichard and the Colon family that we hear them. Please donate anything you can to Prichard Colon’s medical expenses, at the following account information. Also, please share this article and the Colon family’s go-fund-me page click here.