Contreras Has Message After Nearly Losing Life

Times Staff Writer

Ruben Contreras returned to California Hospital Medical Center on Friday, making his way down the halls with the aid of a walker to thank the doctors and nurses who saved his life.

When Contreras arrived at the facility in downtown Los Angeles 10 weeks ago, it was on a stretcher, near death because of a brain injury suffered in a flyweight match at Staples Center. But after five weeks at the hospital and five more weeks at the Rancho Los Amigos rehabilitation center in Downey, Contreras has been released.

The native of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, said through an interpreter that he remembers the fight and recalls turning his back on his opponent, Brian Viloria, to end the match in the sixth round. But, Contreras said, he didn’t quit because of pain.

“I felt God told me to stop. Maybe I would not be here if I had not stopped,” said Contreras, who collapsed as he left the ring and suffered a seizure.


During a hospital news conference Friday, Contreras said, “I remember being here. I remember fighting for my life.”

Although he entered with a 9-16-3 record to face Viloria (16-0), Contreras said he didn’t think he was being thrown into a mismatch. “I felt confident,” he said. “I was prepared, very enthusiastic about winning.”

Contreras said the first thing he remembers after regaining consciousness was the sight of his wife, Nancy, who gave him a hug.

The 32-year-old Contreras, a carpenter by trade, knows there will be no boxing in his future.


“I told my mother [Eustolia] and my wife that I will never box again,” he said. “I told my wife that things will be different now. I feel sad because I like boxing, but I have to think of my family first.”

Contreras was emphatic when asked whether he would like to see any of his three children -- 12-year-old Ruben Jr., 7-year-old Isaac or 3-year-old Jasmine -- become boxers.

“No,” he said. “It’s very dangerous.”

Contreras doesn’t even want to be around the sport that has been his life -- not as a trainer, not as a manager.


“I don’t want to induce others to go into boxing,” he said.

Viloria will return to Staples Center for a Sept. 10 title fight. Would Contreras, who will be staying with relatives in L.A. while continuing therapy, like to attend that match as a spectator? “No,” he said, “I would like to stay home with my family.”