Michael Dokes was knocked out but not senseless. He had the sense to know his career may be over.
The former World Boxing Assn. heavyweight champion was knocked out Wednesday night by Donovan (Razor) Ruddock in the fourth round of a scheduled 12-round bout and remained unconscious for two minutes.
"I'm devastated," Dokes said. "Maybe it's time for me to start thinking about doing something else. "If I can't beat Ruddock, I can't beat (Buster) Douglas."
Two other former WBA champions also appeared on the card. James (Bonecrusher) Smith, 35, who knocked out Mike Weaver in the first round in April 5, 1986, needed 12 rounds to beat the 37-year-old Weaver this time. He did it so convincingly that Weaver announced his retirement.
As referee Arthur Mercante Jr. counted out Dokes, doctors and Dokes' cornermen rushed to the stricken fighter. The drama was heightened when a stretcher was taken into the ring.
Dokes, who, according to a ringside physician, was on the canvas for 4 1/2 minutes before being helped to his stool. He finally left the ring under his power.
"I knew he was hurt," the 26-year-old Ruddock said, "but I had to do my job. If he was hurt, I'm sorry about it. I didn't want him to be hurt permanently."
Dokes, 31, seemed to have an edge after the first three rounds. Then, early in the fourth, Ruddock crashed a left uppercut that dropped Dokes into a squatting position.
Dokes straightened up and was hit with a right hand and two left hooks that sent him to the floor.
Ruddock disclosed after the fight that he hurt his right hand three weeks ago and had not done any sparring.
Murad Muhammad, Ruddock's promoter and co-promoter of Wednesday night's show, said the fighter went to a doctor just two days before the fight.
"The doctor told him, 'It's not cracked, it's not broken,' " Muhammad said. "Razor asked him, 'Can I fight?' The doctor said, 'Yes, if you can stand the pain.' "
Ruddock didn't throw a right hand until early in the third round when he landed a left lead flush to Dokes' face. He threw a couple of others before the big right hand in the fight-ending combination.
Dokes' gloves were cut off and he was administered oxygen as he lay on the canvas. But he began talking to doctors a few minutes after the knockout.
The ending came with explosive suddenness. Until then, the fight had been one of tactics. Both men had landed some hard punches but were unable to put any effective combinations together until Ruddock's fight-ending flurry.
Many in the crowd of 12,624 at the first all-live boxing card in Madison Square Garden in a little more than three years applauded Dokes after he got up.
The knockout at 53 seconds of the fourth round was an important win for the 26-year-old Ruddock, a native of Jamaica who lives in Toronto. He is ranked second by both the WBA and World Boxing Council and fourth by the International Boxing Federation.
Dokes launched a comeback in 1987 after a layoff of 33 months due to legal problems and rehabilitation from cocaine addiction.
Ruddock, who weighed 230 pounds, has a 23-1-1 record with 16 knockouts. Dokes, 240, of Miami Beach, has a 41-3-2 record with 27 knockouts.
The loss was his second in 14 fights since the comeback began. Dokes' other loss since his comeback began was to top-ranked Evander Holyfield, who is expected to challenge champion James (Buster) Douglas in September.