David Morrell Jr. couldn’t get the discouraging consequences of his most recent victory out of his mind.
The opponent he had just brutally beaten, Aidos Yerbossynuly, was hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis after suffering severe brain trauma during their one-sided fight November 5 at The Armory. The super middleweight contender was placed in a medically induced coma and had surgery to remove swelling from his brain several days after Morrell knocked him out in the 12th round of a fight Showtime televised.
Yerbossynuly’s boxing career was obviously over, but it was unclear at that point whether Yerbossynuly would be able to lead a normal life. Early in December, however, Yerbossynuly was released from a rehab facility and his remarkable recovery enabled him to return to his family in Kazakhstan.
“My mind after that happened was not OK for 2½ weeks,” Morrell told BoxingScene.com. “I was thinking, thinking, thinking about him. It was not easy. It was a really hard moment for me. But after I saw he went back to Kazakhstan, I was so happy for him. I’m happy he’s OK.”
The Cuban-born Morrell couldn’t help but think he just as easily could’ve found himself in Yerbossynuly’s scary situation. That’s the dangerous nature of his chosen vocation, yet that didn’t make matters much easier for the unbeaten WBA world super middleweight champion.
“At the same time I was thinking about him, I was thinking it could have been me,” Morrell said. “I thought if I were in the hospital, what would happen to my family? I thought the same way for his family.”
The 25-year-old Morrell (8-0, 7 KOs) doesn’t expect the Yerbossynuly tragedy to negatively impact his performance Saturday night, when the skilled, strong southpaw will battle Brazil’s Yamaguchi Falcao (24-1-1, 10 KOs, 1 NC) on the Gervonta Davis-Ryan Garcia undercard at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.
“Right now, I’m not thinking about that,” Morrell said. “I’m thinking about my next opponent. My mind is clear. I know he is good. I know he is in Kazakhstan with his family. Everything seems OK. That’s good. I’m happy for him.”
The 12-round, 168-pound bout between Morrell and Falcao will be the co-feature of a four-fight Showtime Pay-Per-View telecast (8 p.m. EDT; 5 p.m. PDT; $84.99).
Morrell was supposed to face Ghana’s Sena Agbeko (27-2, 21 KOs), but Agbeko was denied a license recently by the Nevada State Athletic Commission for undisclosed reasons and was replaced by Falcao on barely one week’s notice. Handicappers have made Morrell a 15-1 favorite to defeat Falcao, who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London.
Keith Idec is a senior writer/columnist for BoxingScene.com. He can be reached on Twitter @Idecboxing.