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Big move in boxing

Published:Saturday | July 26, 2014 | 12:00 AM

GLASGOW, Scotland (AP):It was the first bout of the boxing competition at the Commonwealth Games. Within minutes, Mathew Martin of Nauru had a large lump on his head from a punch. Northern Ireland's Michael Conlan, who won unanimously on points, had blood streaming down his face.

That's what fighting without protective headgear can do.

In a decision last year, the International Boxing Association stopped the use of headgear in male bouts, citing medical experts who said it would help reduce concussions.

Benson Njangiru of Kenya, who won his bantamweight fight yesterday, said going into the ring for the first time without headgear was "scary."

"You have to be more worried about cuts," said Njangiru, who won a silver medal at the 2010 Commonwealth Games in New Delhi. "But the change affects both fighters the same way."

medical studies

His coach, Albert Matito, said they've trained without headgear for about six weeks and it was "terrible at first, but now we are getting used to it."

While female fighters and younger boxers will still use headgear, the boxing association cited medical studies that wearing headgear diffused blows to the head and allowed boxers to sustain more head shots - and potential brain damage - for longer periods of time.

"I am certainly not in favour of it; there were two guys cut in the first fight," said Harry Hawkins of Belfast, Northern Ireland, coach of the four-man Mozambique team.

"These guys will be getting hit far too often. It is OK in a one-off competition, but these fighters will have five bouts in 10 days. And an unlucky cut to the head might mean the best boxers don't win."

Not everyone is against the change.

England boxing team leader John Hallam said he's heard nothing but positive comments about the move, and said the style of fighting in amateur bouts will change as a result.