Boxer Towell dies after Glasgow bout

Mike Towell Image copyright STV
Image caption Mike Towell at the start of his fight in Glasgow

Scottish boxer Mike Towell has died in hospital after being seriously injured in a bout on Thursday.

The 25-year-old, from Dundee, was rushed to hospital after a fifth-round loss to Welsh fighter Dale Evans in a St Andrew's Sporting Club fight at Glasgow's Radisson Blu Hotel.

Towell's partner, Chloe Ross, said he "fought right to the end".

He is only the third professional boxer to die in the UK from apparently fight-related injuries in the past 21 years.

His management said he passed away with his family at his bedside.

St Andrews Sporting Club confirmed Towell's death in a tweet on Saturday morning.

"Within the last hour Mike Towell passed away - he will always be in our hearts #RIPIronMike," it said.

Image copyright SNS
Image caption Mike Towell was knocked down in the first and fifth rounds of the fight

In a Facebook post, his partner Ms Ross said Towell died "peacefully" shortly after 23:00 BST on Friday, 12 hours after he was taken off life support.

"I'm absolutely heartbroken to say my annoying best friend passed away tonight at 11.02 very peacefully," she wrote.

"Michael had severe bleeding and swelling to his brain.

"He had been complaining of headaches for the last few weeks but we put it down to migraines with the stress of his fight.

"It has been the longest 24 hours of our lives. My baby has lost his daddy. But he will be so so proud of his dad in what he achieved."

Ms Ross added: "Once he was taken off of his life support he managed 12 hours, 12 whole rounds off his life support, he fought right to the end and he's done us all so proud... He left doing the thing he's best at... there's only one."

A spokesman for St Andrew's Sporting Club later said that Towell's management team was not aware of any headache problems leading up to the fight.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mike Towell, pictured during a bout in May 2015, was previously undefeated
Image copyright STV
Image caption Mike Towell, just before the start of the St Andrew's Sporting Club bout

Towell was knocked down in the first round of the fight before recovering to continue the match.

Referee Victor Loughlin stopped the fight in the fifth round shortly after Towell was knocked down by Carmarthen fighter Evans for a second time.

He received treatment in the ring and was given oxygen before being taken to an ambulance on a stretcher.

Spencer Oliver, the former European Super Bantamweight champion who was placed in a coma after being injured in a fight in 1998, said Towell would not have been allowed to fight if there had been doubts about his health.

He said: "He would have to have had all his medical tests. He was in a British title eliminator so all his brain scans would have been up to date and everything would have been in place with Mike going into that contest."

But boxing promoter Frank Warren raised concerns about the reports that Towell had been suffering from headaches.

He said: "If that's true, obviously he shouldn't have been fighting. And I'm quite sure, the doctor, who examines the boxers and the medicals, if they had of known that, they would not have allowed him to box.

"So, obviously once the British Boxing Board of Control complete their investigation into the matter, they'll be able to give further comment on that."

Boxing tragedies

Image copyright Getty Images
  • Featherweight Lynn James is recorded as the first British boxer to have died following a fight, in 1964, aged 21.
  • Johnny Owen, 24, died in hospital in November 1980, more than a month after his bantamweight fight with Mexican Lupe Pintor left him unconscious. It was found that the Welsh-born boxer had an unusually delicate skull.
  • Super welterweight fighter Steve Watt, 27, from Glasgow died in March 1986 following a fight with Rocky Kelly. It was found he had sustained brain damage over a long period of time.
  • Michael Watson, 51, needed six brain operations after he was punched during a rematch against Chris Eubank in September 1991. The middleweight fighter spent 40 days in a coma and several years in a wheelchair, ending his boxing career.
  • Bradley Stone, 23, collapsed hours after a fight against Richie Wenton in London, in April 1994. The super bantamweight fighter developed a huge blood clot on his brain
  • James Murray, 25, from Lanarkshire, suffered a brain bleed and seizure. He died two days after his bantamweight fight against Drew Docherty in October 1995.
  • Light middleweight Michael Norgrove, 32, died in April 2013, several days after suffering a haemorrhage at a fight against Tom Bowen at Blackfriars, London.

Towell's family are understood to have been joined by his manager, Tommy Gilmour, during his final hours.

Mr Gilmour said"He was Iron Mike to the end, he kept fighting till the last, and we have lost an exciting boxer but, more importantly, a very special man.

"I am devastated and all my thoughts are with Mike's mum Tracey, his partner Chloe and their little son Rocco.

"He was one of the greatest characters I have worked with, I came away from every phone call or chat we had smiling and shaking my head in bewilderment."

'Explosive talent'

Iain Wilson, owner of St Andrew's Sporting Club, who was with Towell and his family following the fight, added: "He wasn't just a fighter at our club, he was my friend and a special heart-and-soul guy.

"I was with the family through the night after the fight, they are heartbroken and everyone at the club shares their grief.

"We have lost one of our favourite sons and boxing has lost an explosive talent but the biggest loss of all is for the Towell family. We will rally round them now to do all we can."

Trainer Shane McGuigan said on Twitter: "Heartbreaking news that Mike Towell has lost his life. May he rest in peace, thoughts go out to his loved ones. #RIP"

Promoter Eddie Hearn said: "Absolutely devastated by the passing of Mike Towell - all of our thoughts with his friends and family at this time."

The boxer had been undefeated going into Thursday's fight, with 11 previous wins and one draw on his professional record.

Veteran Labour MP Paul Flynn described Mike Towell's death as "a terrible tragedy" and renewed his call for blows to the head to be banned in sport.

The shadow cabinet member twice called for the rule change through private member's bills in 1998 and and 2005 but failed on both occasions.

Mr Flynn said: "I think the consciences of people in the sport are aroused by tragedies of this kind and I think people should be aware of the dangers.

"We ought to change the rules in many sports and realise that the head is a very delicate part of the body and to protect it, and minimise the number of blows the brain suffers."

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