Nicki Jhabvala
Monday July 28th, 2008

In a controversial battle July 16, James Toney defeated Hasim Rahman at the Pechanga Resort and Casino in Temecula, Calif., by techinical knockout at the end of Round 3

But that was then.

After Rahman appealed the decision, the California State Athletic Association changed the ruling to a "No Decision" on July 28.

During the fight, which aired on Fox's Best Damn Sports Show Period, Rahman (45-6-2, 36 KOs, 1 NC) received a gash over his left eye after the two fighters butted heads in the third round. With blood running down Rahamn's eye, his opponent continued to feed him a slew of punches that eventually left "The Rock" shaky on his feet.

His vision hampered, Rahamn complained to referee Ray Corona after the collision, but Corona noted that the clash was merely accidental.

Between rounds, ringside physician Dr. Paul Wallace examined the fighter's cut and repeated asked him if he felt fit to continue. Rahman never explicitly said he was unable to go on, but Wallace advised Corona to end the fight, and Corona told the ringside announcers that the bout was ruled a "no contest."

Initially, the fight was ruled a "no contest" per CSAC rules, which requires such a call when an accidental injury occurs to boxer by a head butt prior to the end of fourth round. Also according to the California rulebook, if the bout had lasted beyond four rounds, the victor would have been decided by the judges.

Though the decision seemed cut and dry at the time -- accidental head butt before the end of the fourth leads to to "no contest," -- the confused look on the faces of fans, as well as the fighters and trainers ringside said it all. The match was ruled a technical-knockout win in favor of Toney (70-6-3, 43 KOs, 1 NC) .

For Rahman, the head butt from Toney was not his first in a major fight. Against Evander Holyfield in 2002, two collisions -- one in the fourth round, round in the seventh -- between the boxers caused a severe hematoma on the side of Rahman's head. The fight was stopped in the eighth because of the swelling, but, as rules state, the decision was in the hands of the judges. Holyfield won.

Such safety issues in the ring have been brought up time and time again, most recently by Dr. Margaret Goodman, the former chief ringside physician for the Nevada State Athletic Commision, who, in her column on SI.com, argues that boxers deserve more vigilance in medical testing and examination .

A day after the Toney-Rahman incident, welterweight Oscar Diaz slipped into a coma after taking a jab to the temple in his ESPN2's Wednesday Night Fights against Delvin Rodriguez. Diaz remains in a coma and in critical condition, but, contrary to earlier reports, doctors expect him to survive.

After the July 16 fight, Rahman said he would be up for a third fight against Toney, but under one condition: the match won't be held in California -- sure sign that rules may need to be changed for safety reasons.

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