Scotland

Boxer Mike Towell 'stopped sparring because of headaches'

Mike Towell Image copyright STV
Image caption Mike Towell, centre left, was fighting Welsh boxer Dale Evans in a welterweight title eliminator

Scottish boxer Mike Towell stopped a sparring session because of headaches just weeks before the fight which led to his death, it has been claimed.

Gym owner and promoter Alex Morrison told the Scottish Sun on Sunday that Towell was advised not to box on because "he wasn't feeling too good".

Mr Morrison said: "He looked okay."

Towell, 25, was knocked down twice during his bout with Welsh fighter Dale Evans in Glasgow on Thursday and died in hospital on Friday night.

His partner Chloe Ross had revealed he had been suffering migraines for weeks but had dismissed it as pre-match stress.

Image copyright SNS
Image caption Mike Towell had been undefeated going in to the fight

Towell's management team have said they were unaware he had been complaining of headaches.

But Mr Morrison told the newspaper the Dundee fighter cut short a training session after speaking to people at his gym.

He said: "He was sparring with a guy called Stewart Burt but he stopped because of the headache.

"I never paid any attention as he looked okay.

"When he told the guys he wasn't feeling too good, they advised him not to box."

'Alarm bells'

Towell died after taking part in a welterweight title eliminator against Carmarthen fighter Evans.

Dr Louise Eccles, who is the chief medical officer of the British and Irish Boxing Association, told BBC Radio 5 Live Breakfast "alarm bells would have been ringing" if Towell had mentioned the headaches during medical checks before the fight.

She said her organisation, which has similar rules to the British Boxing Board of Control which sanctioned the Towell fight, employed "rigorous" medical checks.

Dr Eccles said it insisted on an annual, thorough medical plus an annual MRI head scan, an optician's report and blood tests.

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

She added: "We have a pre-fight medical and if the doctor is not happy with the boxer's condition, the fight will not go ahead.

"The question would have been asked, pre-fight, to the gentleman: Have you had headaches recently? That is a standard question in the pre-fight medical. And in the annual medical, headaches are mentioned frequently and tested for neurologically.

"Boxers tend to be excited and very pumped up before the occasion and also have rigorous training before and event.

"So, mild headaches are possible, but that would set alarm bells ringing in any doctor's mind. And, if mentioned, further questioning would take place.

"I don't know if Mr Towell mentioned it to the doctor, but I would like to think that if he'd had a lot of migraine headaches he would have mentioned it, but unfortunately has not."

Image copyright STV
Image caption Mike Towell, just before the start of the St Andrew's Sporting Club bout

Tributes have been paid to Dundee fighter Towell - known as "Iron Mike" - who is only the third professional boxer to die in the UK from apparently fight-related injuries in 21 years.

He had been undefeated going into the fight, with 11 previous wins and one draw on his professional record.

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

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

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

Professional boxer turned promoter Ricky Hatton set up a JustGiving page which has raised more than £20,000 to support Towell's family.

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