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‘He fought to the end’ – Tributes to Dundee boxer Mike Towell

"Iron" Mike Towell.
Dundee boxer Iron Mike Towell who has died from injuries sustained in a title fight in Glasgow on Thursday night.

A Dundee boxer has died in hospital after being knocked out in a title eliminator in Glasgow on Thursday night.

“Iron” Mike Towell, 25, was fighting Dale Evans in a final eliminator for the British welterweight title when he was knocked out in the fifth round.

The young father was stretchered from the ring and rushed to hospital where he was placed on a life support machine. However, early on Saturday his management team said he had passed away with his family at his hospital bedside.

It has since emerged the boxer had been complaining of headaches before the fight and had missed training sessions.

The boxer’s “heartbroken” partner Chloe Ross said Towell, had been suffering from headaches in the weeks before the fight.

Gym owner and promoter Alex Morrison said one headache had forced Mike Towell to stop sparring as he prepared for Thursday’s bout with Dale Evans.

Mr Morrison told the Scottish Sun on Sunday: “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.”

The boxer’s management team have said they were not aware of any headache complaints as politicians and doctors questioned the safety of the sport.

Miss Ross, who had a two-year-old son with Towell, posted an emotional tribute to her partner of eight years online.

Thanking the thousands of people who had sent messages of support as Mike fought for life, she said: “I’m absolutely heartbroken to say my annoying best friend passed away tonight at 11.02 very peacefully.

“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.”

Paying tribute to Mike’s fighting spirit to the end, she added: “Today once he was taken off 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 and I’m so glad I got to spend eight and a half years with the absolute plonker and still have the best thing that ever happened to us, Rocco – a part of him with me forever.”

The clash, which took place at the Radisson Blu Hotel, had been screened on STV Glasgow.

Mike, a scaffolder by trade, was knocked down by a right hook in the first round but recovered in subsequent rounds.

However, Evans knocked him down again in the fifth round with a left hook.

Although Mike was able to climb to his feet, referee Victor Loughlin stepped in to stop the bout as Evans launched another series of blows. Mike was then rushed to hospital. It is understood he suffered severe brain injuries and never regained consciousness.

His Welsh opponent posted on Twitter after the fight:

Mike had been undefeated going into Thursday’s bout, winning 11 and drawing one of his professional fights.

Welshman Evans later released a statement describing him as a “true warrior”.

He said: “He is such a fantastic fighter, you are happy to win but all I wanted to do was get the victory. Not this.

“I never wanted to see my opponent being stretchered out of the ring.

“Who would ever want that sight? That was so hard for his family and my heart goes out to them.”

Towell’s manager Tommy 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.

“Mike died doing what he loved best, boxing. He put so much into every part of his life, both inside and outside the ring.

“I can’t pay a high enough tribute to the British Boxing Board of Control medical team at ringside and the staff at the hospital for their valiant efforts to save Mike.”

Mr Gilmour added: “My thoughts are also with referee Victor Loughlin. I know he is devastated but there is absolutely nothing more he could have done to prevent this tragedy and no blame whatsoever can be attributed to him.”

St Andrew’s Sporting Club owner Iain Wilson 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 promoted nine of Mike’s 13 fights, six of them were in the St Andrew’s Sporting Club and our members loved watching him doing what he loved best.

“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.”

Members of the boxing community paid tribute to Towell on Saturday morning.

St Andrews Sporting Club said Towell “will always be in our hearts”.

Promoter Eddie Hearn tweeted: “Absolutely devastated by the passing of Mike Towell – all of our thoughts with his friends and family at this time.”

Former European champion Spencer Oliver tweeted: “So saddened to hear of the devastating news that Mike Towell has passed away, my thoughts & prayers are with his family & friends. #RIP x.”

Boxer Tommy Coyle, former international lightweight champion, said: “Wow Mike Towell may you rest in peace and know that every fighting man has nothing but respect for you.”

Boxing promoter Frank Warren has questioned whether the bout should have gone ahead if Towell had been suffering headaches in the run-up to the clash.

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.”

Charity Headway has called for boxing to be banned.

Chief executive Peter McCabe said: “This was a young father in the prime of his life and our heartfelt thoughts go out to his family and friends at this difficult time.

“Quite rightly, the focus at this time should be on supporting the family. But the question remains: how many more lives have to be damaged or lost before this senseless sport is banned?”


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