In February 2001, Edwin Valero was involved in a near fatal motorbike accident in which he fractured his skill and had surgery to remove a blood clot. Had he been wearing a helmet, his injuries would not be half as severe. Despite the life threatening injury, El Inca was cleared by Venezuelan doctors to begin his professional boxing career.
Three years and twelve first-round knockouts later, Valero signed with Golden Boy Promotions and was heavily tagged as the next big star. His recklessly aggressive style and consistent offense was reminiscent of Pipino Cuevas, who made the most of his abilities to successfully defend his WBA welterweight title eleven times before Thomas Hearns ended his champion run.
But his chances of emulating Cuevas’ achievements were slim when an MRI scan exploited the full extent of his injuries. He had the most traumatic of brain irregularity, a tear inside the cranium, which is the most fragile part of the brain and thus ending all chance of capturing an American boxing license to appear on the planned HBO Boxing After Dark card.
With the strict safety regulations in the sport, Valero should not have been able to continue with his condition. In my opinion, any fighter who suffers bleeding on the brain should never be allowed to ply their trade in the square circle, no matter how talented they are. But sometimes as is the case in boxing, promoters and advisers could see the dollar signs flashing and in interest of their own bank account, persuaded Valero to risk his life every time he stepped in the ring.
As he rose through the ranks picking up a 130 pound trinket on the way, Valero had established himself as a household name in his home country, building a strong relationship with President Hugo Chavez.
With everybody treating Valero like a king and Top Rank offering him a bumper contract, you could sense an aura of invincibility creeping in on Valero’s behalf. Soon after his destruction of Antonio Pituala to become a two-weight world champion, Valero began to find himself in hot water time and time again.
Allegedly, Valero has been involved in multiple incidents, including domestic violence charges against his mother, sister and wife, possession of illegal firearms, a long list of traffic infringements with a DUI charge in Texas, solvent abuse, and probably many more that the government turned a blind eye on and never got reported.
It was only last month that Valero was suspected for beating up his wife, who didn’t press charges and claimed to have fallen down the stairs. If only someone closer to the pair would have been brave enough to read the situation at the time, two lives could have been saved and two children would not be orphaned.
But how about if somebody had told Valero the day he received the results of the MRI scan that he would never be allowed to box again, and that simply ignoring his injury is a risk not worth taking?
When you have a condition similar to Valero, the last thing you should do as a profession is get hit in the head. Every punch that landed on Valero’s temple increased the percentage of him getting Dementia or Alzheimer’s in the future.
Unlike other parts of the body, the brain doesn’t heal. Our bodies don’t know how to repair the nervous tissue damage, and different to other organs such as skin and muscle where a scar will be marked, the damage area forms a clot in the aftermath to cut the loss of red blood cells. The consequence of that fragile clot tearing and causing the brain to bleed again is one that would have tarnish the sport had it happened in the ring, or even in training.
Major changes in blood flow certainly has an effect on the body and changes many things, including your temperament. The reckless combination of excessive drinking and drug taking could have deteriorated his condition and weakened his brain function, making him irritable.
The theory is far-fetched, but not out of the question. Valero might be a nutcase that when drunk, as he was when he murdered his wife, that he spirals out of control and into a completely different character. Once the full weight of his actions crash down, Valero admits that his actions are wrong and often left off the hook by the Venezuelan police, but this was one weight too heavy.
Valero and his wife’s deaths have rocked the boxing world, and the sport needs to set out strict clear-cut safety guidelines for every country, state commission and alphabet organization to follow. Talented fighters should not be given passes or sneak through the back door as Valero did by fighting in Japan and Mexico. Boxing is a dangerous enough sport as it is, without possessive handlers pressurizing the flexibility of vital rules.