CHICAGO — A journeyman fighter who said he "just didn't want to keep fighting" after being knocked down deserves to be reprimanded but should be allowed to fight again, the chairman of the Illinois state boxing panel says.
Francis Sargent "says he quit out of fear for his life," said Gordon Volkman, Illinois Athletic Board Chairman, "and that's not as serious as somebody quitting for pay.
"I personally would not recommend any permanent suspension," Volkman said. "But that's for the board to decide (Jan. 15). I think, based on what I've heard so far, a reprimand probably would be in order."
Sargent was quoted Sunday in a Chicago newspaper as saying he "threw" a Dec. 14 fight with Craig Bodzianowski, who was returning to competition 18 months after losing his right foot and part of his leg in an accident.
But Sargent (8-10-1) later gave conflicting versions of his actions, saying in a telephone interview Sunday night that a Chicago Sun-Times reporter misinterpreted his explanation of what happened when Bodzianowski sent him to the canvas with two left hooks just 1:05 into the second round.
"I went down to give myself time to recuperate," Sargent said, reading from a letter he said he mailed to the Illinois Athletic Board. "I thought to myself, 'Why should I stand here taking all this punishment' when I was fighting a lost cause."
Sargent, who is black, said he had received threatening phone calls, including racial slurs, before the fight.
"I'm sorry if I offended anyone," Sargent said. "I could have really put on a lot better fight if it hadn't been for those phone calls. I was worried about my wife and my family.
"I tried to explain that to the reporter. But I'm not real good with words. I'd never go into the ring with the idea of going down."
Bodzianowski said the only reason a question had arisen over the match was because of his disability.
"They wouldn't be asking how someone else could knock him out in the first round," he said. "But with me, they say he can't do it. Are they always going to be asking that about me?"
Bodzianowski's comeback attracted national media attention, and he appeared on "Good Morning America" after the fight.
Before his accident, Bodzianowski, of Tinley Park, Ill., had a 13-0 record with 11 knockouts and was a 1981 Golden Gloves champion.
Sargent, who has an 8-10-1 record, said he suffered from "stage fright" because of a hostile, partisan crowd at a suburban Chicago high school where the fight took place.