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Justin Leonard's Letter to Shelly Finkel
by Justin Leonard
Written on March 11, 2006

Shelly Finkel is probably best known for his work as the promoter for boxers Fernando Vargas and former heavyweight champion, Mike Tyson. On Feb 25, 2006, Fernando Vargas lost a close fight versus Sugar Shane Mosley. The fight was stopped in the tenth round because of excessive swelling around the eye of Vargas. The following letter explains a possible cause of the swelling:

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Hello, my name is Justin Leonard. I am the owner of several fitness and consumer protection websites. I also specialize in sports conditioning, strength training, and weight management.

This past weekend, I was able to view the vargas/mosley fight. Prior to the start of the fight, I heard the commentators mention that Mr. Vargas took an anti-inflammatory injection or pill to treat a bulging disk in his lower back. I thought to myself, "Oh no... that's not a good idea."

Under normal circumstances, the anti-inflammatory would be ideal for the treatment of lower back pain. However, for a "contact" athlete, it can actually increase the risk of injury sustained during a boxing match.

Here's why:

First, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) directly affect blood platelets. Blood platelets are important because they allow the blood to clot and prevent hemorrhaging or uncontrollable bleeding. Normal platelet formation is particularly important for "contact" athletes. Why? Well, if the platelets don't produce normal clotting, then bruising and abnormal bleeding over the eyes (particularly if there is a cut) could result.

Simply put, anti-inflammatory drugs cause the blood to thin. If a vessel above the eye is ruptured, then it will intensify the swelling around that area because the blood is able to move more freely. If a punch or accidental headbutt causes the skin to break, then the bleeding from the eye will be harder, or maybe even impossible to stop.

Mr. Vargas is a good fighter, and I'm convinced that he definitely had a shot to win, had the fight not been stopped due to the swelling. I am available at any time should you have questions or need advice in the future.

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