When Al Seeger woke up after his October 2009 Showtime fight against Victor Fronseca in Texas, he immediately called Dr. Bill Dascombe, his plastic surgeon in Savannah. Seeger knew he was in trouble; he was hurt pretty badly. He explained to the doctor that during the fight he was severely injured and didn’t trust that the San Antonio hospital would give him the kind of attention he needed. A cry for help like this from a professional, hard-nosed, well-seasoned and self-proclaimed “grimy” fighter was certainly nothing to ignore. Dascombe sent him directly to a sports specialist who worked with the San Antonio Spurs.
It was in the middle of the televised bout with Fronseca when Seeger knew he was getting into trouble. “The top part of your forehead is pretty hard,” Seeger says, tapping on his head. “But down here, a little lower, right in between your eyes, it’s actually a lot softer.” Early on Fronseca had found Seeger’s soft spot and then continuously, illegally headbutted him throughout the entire fight.
Seeger tried to stop it. “The last thing you want to do in a fight is complain, but I was telling the referee, ‘This guy’s headbutting the hell out of me.’” But Fronseca wouldn’t let up, and by the ninth round, Seeger’s forehead was completely shattered.
First came the jab: Seeger lost the fight and consequently the NABF super bantamweight title he had just received months earlier.
Then a haymaker: He was critically injured and in a great deal of pain. He would need major surgery to repair the damage. After an evaluation and some preliminary work, the doctor in San Antonio cleared him to fly home to Savannah where he would see Dascombe’s colleague at Georgia Institute for Plastic Surgery, Dr. John Paletta. “His forehead bone, where you have your sinus, was crushed. It was pushed backwards. And that was a pretty significant injury because you generally don’t see people’s forehead break,” Paletta says. He equates this type of injury with those he sees on patients that have fallen from a horse or significant height, or have been through severe car or ATV accidents. Never had he seen this kind of damage come from a fight, and he has seen his share of broken noses and facial fractures from bar fights.
Seeger threw a counterpunch: He sent in an official complaint in regards to the referee Ruben Carrion, and after about six months, Carrion was deemed guilty of neglect. “All I wanted was some vindication with the fight,” Seeger says. “It’s true that sport can be dangerous, but when you add in the head as a weapon, it really becomes dangerous. And they agreed; I think he had to pay a fine. I didn’t even really want the referee to have to pay any money; that wasn’t really what I was after. I just wanted it changed to a no contest, and so I got what I wanted to a certain extent.”
Written by Lauren Hunsberger
John Fulton Photography
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