Klinefelter suffers first loss, leaves in ambulance

BY JON FRANK | FEBRUARY 07, 2011 7:10 AM

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Emily Klinefelter’s 96th fight ended with an ambulance ride to the emergency room.

After boxing her opponent Christina Ruiz (6-3-1, 4 KO) for nearly three full rounds, Klinefelter (9-1, 3 KO) suffered her first setback as a professional fighter Feb. 5 at the Johnson County Fairgrounds.

The devastating right hook that ended Klinefelter’s night had enough force behind it to derail a freight train.

Cheers from the crowd quickly silenced after the Iowa City native did not answer the referee’s 10 count.

Ringside companions, friends and family members attempted to revive Klinefelter, 26, as concerned fans gazed in disbelief.

Unresponsive to wake-up calls, fanning, and shaking, she breathed steadily, her eyes shut.

Convulsions sporadically shot through her body as she remained flat on her back.

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A few of the onlookers who knew Klinefelter cried. Others stood vigil praying for the hometown hero’s safety. Few left. Other fighters and trainers frantically dismantled turnbuckles, rolled up mats and folded chairs to make room for the paramedics’ arrival.

Within a half hour, the 4-H building, once crowded with livid fight fans, transformed into an audience staring at Klinefelter unconscious on a box spring canvas.

Paramedics arrived and put the University of Iowa alumnus on a stretcher, securing her with three buckles and a neck brace to immobilize the fighter. Klinefelter was put in an ambulance and transported to a hospital.

“Emily is at the hospital and is doing well,” Klinefelter’s trainer and husband, Adam Pollack, wrote in an e-mail message. “The doctors feel that there is a high probability of a strong recovery. She is speaking and is cogent and responsive, though in and out of sleep as they monitor her. Things are looking up, but the optimism is naturally guarded for the first 72 hours, which is the most critical time.”

Pollack could not be reached for additional comment and would not disclose which hospital Klinefelter was taken to.

The fight that preceded Klinefelter’s hospital visit was the most gruesome battle of her career. The second the bell rang, neither fighter wasted time feeling out styles or setting up strategies — they charged.

In the center of the ring, Ruiz and Klinefelter threw their entire arsenal, alternating hooks, crosses, uppercuts, and the occasional jab.

Although patrons in attendance were ecstatic with the high pace, few could have been surprised.

Klinefelter — infamous for her aggressive style met an opponent with an equally aggressive, if not superior, demeanor.

“I just like hunting,” Ruiz said about her style last week.

The clock expired and the exhausted boxers headed back to their respective corners.

After an opening round that slightly favored Klinefelter, the two reunited at close vicinity. Early in the second round Ruiz broke through Klinefelter’s guard and sent the 122-pound warrior to the canvas.

Hurt but determined, Klinefelter rose to her feet — hell-bent on reclaiming control. The exchanges that followed favored the San Antonio fighter, and Klinefelter was sent to the ropes, stumbling to maintain composure. She’d never been tested like this before. An unrelenting foe again knocked the Iowa City star to the mat.

Combating wobbly legs, she rose to her feet again in an act of bravery, maybe foolishness.

“Her eyes were kind of rolling back, and I thought they were going to stop the fight, but they didn’t,” Ruiz said.

But to Ruiz’s surprise, the undefeated combatant rumbled back into the fight with balance and heart.

Klinefelter fired a left hook that sent the crowd into madness. She was back. After falling twice and nearly conceding her first loss as a professional, Klinefelter fought against injury and bewilderment to retain her dominance.

The bell rung indicating the end of the second round and the boxers — what was left of them — retreated.

After a quick corner conference, the fight resumed. Overworked and beaten, the blistering pace set in the first two rounds slowed briefly.

Unable to deal with a challenge from her opponent, Klinefelter found herself in a combination of shots aimed to bankrupt what was left of her spirit.

Again, she fell. She did not get back up.

“I hope she comes out all right,” Ruiz said. “I’ve been praying for her.”

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