MONTREAL -- Boxer Jeanette Zacarias Zapata was hospitalized Saturday night after being knocked out by Quebec's Marie-Pier Houle.

Yvon Michel, president of Groupe Yvon Michel (GYM), the organizer of the event, said in a press briefing Sunday that the 18-year-old woman was placed in a medically-induced coma to sedate her and relax her body and brain.  

He said the next two to five days will be critical.

Michel added that Zapata's boyfriend and trainer are here with her in Montreal, and they are in contact with her family back in Mexico up to 25 times per day. 

Her family will be responsible for any critical decisions that need to be made in the upcoming hours and days.

When she was first brought to hospital, the prognosis was grim, said Michel. At first, it was thought that she would require surgery, but as her condition has improved, doctors no longer think it is necessary. 

The boxer was transported to hospital following a major trauma sustained during the fight presented at the gala organized by GYM at the IGA Stadium.

The incident occurred at the end of the fourth round. Trapped in the corner with seconds left in the round, Zapata was hit with a series of power shots.

After a solid left uppercut, the Mexican looked stunned. A final right hook sent Zapata's mouthguard flying and she was unable to return to her corner after the bell rang.

Seized with convulsions while still standing, the midfielder was quickly reached by her trainer, who rushed to lay her down in the ring. The medical team on site quickly rushed to her side. She was placed on a stretcher and taken to the ambulance, which took her to the hospital.

It is not known if she was conscious at the time of her transfer to the hospital.

Late in the evening, Yvon Michel, president of GYM, had suggested that the news was not good.

"Her boyfriend, Jovanni Martinez (who boxed earlier Saturday), has been asked to go to the hospital," Michel said. "What I can say is that the situation is critical. The situation is serious.'

Houle, who was credited with a technical knockout victory, could not be to blame: referee Albert Paduano Jr. did not interfere and the bell signaling the end of the round had not sounded. After a brief celebration of her victory, she was a helpless witness to the whole post-fight scene.

"This is not the thing you want to see," she said after the fight. "I was definitely going for the knockout, but I would have preferred her to come out on her feet, not lying on a stretcher. We're keeping our fingers crossed that everything goes well."

Reached by The Canadian Press on Sunday, Houle, extremely shaken, preferred not to comment.

Minutes after the fight, as is the norm in such situations, the gloves and tape used to bandage Houle's hands were seized by the Régie des alcools des courses et des jeux (RACJ), "in order to exonerate Houle in this case," said a person familiar with the matter.

As with every combat sports event, the RACJ will evaluate all the fights on Saturday. The fight between Houle and Zacarias Zapata will be further investigated.

Match recaps

The Terrebonne fighter established her dominance in the ring as early as the first round, forcing Zapata to keep a distance.

That dominance carried into the second round, with Houle maintaining control of the ring, often confining Zapata to the ropes.

Earlier in the day, heavyweight Alexis Barrière (3-0, 3 K-O) brought down Angel Gabriel Barron (1-2, 1 K-O)

Confident jabs, efficient back hands, and strong hooks from Barrière could not be matched by Barron – who was brought to the mat in the first round by a left to the liver.

Barrière’s victory was called in the second after Barron made a second visit to the mat.

Strong beginnings

The evening was kicked off by the professional debut of light heavyweight Petar Gavrilovic (1-0), who turned to boxing for lack of opportunities in mixed martial arts.

The Mexican Ruben Mejia (1-6-1) provided solid opposition, but New Era fighter Gavrilovic won by unanimous decision. All three judges handed cards 39-37.

Samuel Lajoie (1-0, 1 K-O) also won his first professional fight.

After showing Patrick Lafleur (1-4-1, 1 K-O) the floor in the first round, the Saint-Hyacinthe welterweight returned in the second.

He trapped his opponent in the red corner before pounding him with blows, prompting the referee to intervene 1:07 mark. 

-- This report was first published by The Canadian Press in French on Aug. 29, 2021.