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LAS VEGAS, Sept. 22 - Leavander Johnson died this afternoon of brain wounds he received in valiantly trying to retain his IBF lightweight title last Saturday at the MGM Grand against Jesus Chavez.

The 35-year-old veteran from Atlantic City, the father of four children, underwent brain surgery to remove a large blood clot, less than 45 minutes after collapsing in his dressing room.

Doctors at the University Medical Center here did not hold up much hope of Johnson making it through the first night, when he was put into a chemically induced coma to help the swelling and pressure on his brain retreat. But the doctors were "amazed" at the reduction in swelling overnight.

After another day or so of hope, Johnson's condition turned for the worse last night and he succumbed today. His father, and trainer, Bill Johnson; mother, sister, and two brothers kept the vigil at the hospital. There were no immediate announcements as to funeral plans.

Johnson was the second boxer to die in Las Vegas in less than four months. Martin Sanchez of Mexico City died July 2 of injuries suffered July 1 here.

Johnson, who turned pro in 1989 and finished with a 34-5-2 record with 26 knockouts, won his title exactly three months before making his first defense against Chavez. It was his fourth attempt at winning a world title. He went to Milano and beat Stefano Zoff of Italy.

Lou DiBella, his promoter, had Johnson introduced to a New York City crowd as a world champion and said it was one of the proudest moments of the fighter's life.

He was a tall, lanky boxer with a good jab and hurtful right hand, but it was his heart that made him special. He absorbed a terrible beating from the smaller Chavez, a former junior lightweight titlist, but argued even after Referee Tony Weeks stopped the bout at 38 seconds of the 11th round. His father had asked him after the eighth and ninth rounds if he should stop the bout, but Johnson said he was "wearing him down." After the tenth round, Nevada's chief ringside physician, neurologist Margaret Goodman, examined him and allowed the bout to continue.

Goodman talked to Johnson in the ring after the fight and said he was still clear-headed then. But on the way back to his dressing room, followed by Dr. William Berliner of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, his left leg began to drag.

In the room, he complained of headaches before collapsing and being quickly put in an ambulance and taken to the hospital, where, less than 45 minutes after leaving the ring, he was on the operating table for Dr. William Smith to remove a large clot from the right side of the brain. Dr. Smith said the quickness in getting Johnson to the table gave him what chance he had of surviving.


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:sad:. joeb_uk :hug: are u a boxing fan?
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