YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – Boxer Anthony Taylor is trying to move on from a fight in which his opponent died after collapsing in the ring.
Taylor took on Hazmah Ajahmi, a 19-year-old from Detroit, during a December 19th fight at Saints Peter and Paul Ukrainian Orthodox Banquet Center. Ajahmi died of blunt force trauma to the head after he was rushed to the hospital for emergency surgery.
Taylor, who was practicing at South Side Boxing Club on Thursday, said he is physically and emotionally drained. It was the first time that he has talked to reporters about the fight.
“I’m doing a lot better than I was at first,” Taylor said. “It was kind of hard on me at first, dealing with a death. I never really intended for nothing like that to happen. It’s a sport, and we’re competing.”
Taylor said he talked to Ajahmi’s family after Ajahmi’s death.
“They kind of welcomed me with open arms, told me they wanted me to keep boxing and none of this my fault,” Taylor said.
He also spoke with former boxer Ray “Boom Boom” Mancini, who had to deal with a similar circumstance.
In 1982, Mancini won the lightweight title with a first-round knockout in Vegas, and he then went on to fight Duk-koo Kim. That fight that ended in tragedy after Kim collapsed into a coma and later died from a brain injury.
Taylor said talking with Mancini helped him to cope. He said he thought about quitting boxing but has decided to continue with the sport that he loves.
He called that December 19th fight a “closed chapter” in his life.
Taylor’s next fight is scheduled for March 26, again at the Youngstown Ukrainian Center. His trainer, Jack Loew, said he hopes he is ready.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen, and nobody’s going to know until that night,” Lowe said.