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Super featherweight Jimmy Garcia of Colombia died this morning,

May 19, 1995

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Super featherweight Jimmy Garcia of Colombia died this morning, 12 days after he collapsed in the ring with a brain injury during a title fight with champion Gabriel Ruelas.

Garcia died at 1:43 a.m. PDT at University Medical Center, where he had been on life-support systems since the May 6 bout.

``He just never improved,″ said nursing supervisor Bill Pellegrino. ``We were very optimistic that he would do better, but he didn’t.″

The life-support systems were shut off after doctors determined late Thursday that Garcia was brain dead. His family was called and came to the hospital before the life support was cut off.

``We let them see him and then turned the ventilator off,″ said Dr. Albert Capanna.

Capanna, the neurosurgeon who operated on Garcia, had expressed hope in the days after the bout that they might be able to save the 23-year old fighter, saying ``we’re hopeful we’ll get him there.″

But, he failed to improve and by late last week doctors were expressing concern that he would not survive, fearing a fatal stroke.

Garcia was battered throughout the fight and seemed to have little punching power. He made it into the 11th round before the fight was stopped, and then collapsed in his corner.

He was rushed to University Medical Center, where he underwent neurosurgery within 35 minutes of his collapse.

Marc Ratner, executive director of the Nevada State Athletic Commission, said four doctors were at the fight at Caesars Palace, and praised the immediate medical attention provided the boxer.

``We were prepared for this and will be in the future,″ Ratner said last week. ``We’re always trying to rethink this and find ways to get better.″

Ratner said referee Mitch Halpern acted properly during the fight, which saw Garcia take a beating from the first round on. Halpern appeared ready to stop the fight when Garcia wilted noticeably in the 10th round, but allowed it to continue.

Ringside physician Flip Homansky was brought into the corner after the round to examine Garcia, who was coherent and pleaded with the doctor for the fight to continue. It did, for another 25 seconds until Halpern finally stopped it.

Ratner said last week that Garcia’s father and brother were working his corner, and kept exhorting the fighter to try harder when he was getting beat up and had lost every round.

``I cannot stop having the family in the corner, but it certainly is a problem,″ Ratner said. ``This exacerbated the problem by them pushing him out there.″

Garcia’s mother and other family members came from Colombia to be with the fighter.

Promoter Bob Arum said a drastic weight loss in the weeks leading up to the fight may have contributed to Garcia’s death.

Garcia had to lose 30 pounds in two months to make the 130-pound limit for his fight.

Garcia’s kidney function improved Tuesday and he moved when pinched, indicating there was still brain activity, said Capanna.

Arum said Ruelas was devastated by Garcia’s injury, and has been with Garcia’s family during its vigil at the hospital.

Last July, Las Vegas-based former Olympic welterweight gold medalist Wangila Napunyi of Kenya died two days after being stopped in the ninth round by David Gonzalez. Napunyi left the ring under his own power, but collapsed and required brain surgery the next day.

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