MARIO MELO, a former light-heavyweight contender from Argentina, tragically passed away on Sunday (November 4) after choking on a croissant during a croissant-eating competition in the city of Pinamar.

During an attempt to eat as many croissants inside a minute as possible, the 56-year-old choked on his third croissant and collapsed shortly after. Several men attempted to resuscitate Melo but were unable to do so.

An autopsy conducted yesterday (Monday) revealed his windpipe had become blocked by the dough and he had subsequently choked to death.

According to the Daily Mail, a witness told local media: “It was terrible because this happened in front of lots of families with young children.

“The hosts were joking and saying the participants couldn’t talk. They realised how dangerous it was but tried to minimise the risk.

“There wasn’t even a glass of water to hand. Mario asked for one when he was struggling and almost couldn’t talk. After that, he collapsed.”

Journalist Christian Echeveria said the Heimlich manoeuvre was performed by a first aider on a nine-year-old girl to dislodge a croissant during a competition for children, but Melo was wrongly administered CPR. He said, “At no point did the local town hall specify there would be a competition where the participants would have to eat as many croissants as they could in a minute.”

A friend of Melo, Miguel Ledesma, paid tribute to the former fighter. “People across Pinamar are sad because of the type of person he was – always helping people.

“He was very happy. He said he was going to eat croissants and he invited lots of people. We cannot come to terms with the way he went.”

Mario Melo challenged American Michael Moorer for the WBO world light-heavyweight in April 1990 and was beaten inside a round. He retired with a 21-9 (17) professional record, having become the Argentinean light-heavyweight champion in 1988.

In retirement, he was reported to have said, “I miss boxing. When I was doing well and at the top of my game, I had a lot of friends. Now it’s finished I feel alone.

“Everyone makes money, apart from the boxer.”

It was hard to not to sympathise with the way Ryan Burnett’s reign as WBA bantamweight came to an end on Saturday night (November 3) in Glasgow, Scotland.

Hindered and then stopped by a back injury, Burnett was retired after four rounds, surrendered his belt to Nonito Donaire, his opponent, and promptly exited the World Boxing Super Series bantamweight tournament.

So unfortunate was the incident, even Zolani Tete, the WBO champion Burnett was set to face in the semi-final, has extended his condolences the way of the beaten Irishman. What’s more, the talented South African, who has fought twice in Belfast in the past 12 months, has revealed a willingness, if he wins the tournament outright, to defend the belts against Burnett in the Titanic City.

“I was absolutely shocked by what happened to Ryan, but that is boxing,” Tete told David Kelly of the Belfast Telegraph. “I felt very bad for Ryan and I was really looking forward to fighting him because he was the WBA champion and one of the best guys in the division with a beautiful style.

“I am hoping that he makes a full recovery and, when he is ready, I want to give him a chance at fighting for the world title.”

“I want to go on and unify all the belts in this World Boxing Super Series and if Ryan is ready I will give him a shot. If he had beaten Donaire I was willing to come to Belfast and face him and I would still like to go to Belfast and defend against Ryan.”

According to his coach, Adam Booth, Burnett underwent ultrasound scans yesterday (Monday) and will have an MRI scan today (Tuesday). After that, they should know the extent of the injury and, indeed, the extent of the rehabilitation. Boxing News will update as soon as we gather more information.

Nonito Donaire