Banned boxer to fight on

Herald on Sunday - - SPORT - Pa­trick McKendry

Boxer Richie Had­low, whose fledg­ling pro­fes­sional ca­reer re­mains in the bal­ance af­ter a rou­tine pre-fight MRI scan re­vealed a brain aneurysm, is used to fight­ing back from ad­ver­sity.

Eleven years ago, the then 20-yearold broke his neck in a gym­nas­tics com­pe­ti­tion but re­fused to let the ac­ci­dent hold him back.

Ea­ger to see how he would fare in­side the ropes, Had­low, who took up box­ing only seven years ago, be­came a na­tional am­a­teur cham­pion in his new sport and rep­re­sented New Zealand at this year’s Gold Coast Com­mon­wealth Games.

He was to make his pro­fes­sional debut on the Joseph Parker v Alexan­der Flores un­der­card in Christchurch next Satur­day but the MRI scan, newly manda­tory for all fight­ers on Duco Events cards, ended that.

Had­low, 31, who fights in the light­weight di­vi­sion, is yet to see a spe­cial­ist and is re­fus­ing to call time on box­ing just yet. His re­cov­ery from the trauma of frac­tur­ing two ver­te­brae in his pre­vi­ous sport sug­gests he has the spirit to over­come his lat­est is­sue.

“I was do­ing a 21⁄2 som­er­sault on the vault and over-ro­tated it and landed square on my head,” Had­low, who lives in Queen­stown, told the Her­ald on Sun­day.

“I opted out of surgery. I was in a halo brace for six months and in an Aspen brace for an­other three. They wanted to fuse [the ver­te­brae] but . . . had they fused them, there was no way I was do­ing any kind of sport.

“I’ve been hurt a lot more out­side the ring than in­side it.”

Had­low said he had just sparred 24 rounds in camp with Christchurch super wel­ter­weight Bowyn Mor­gan, who is fight­ing on the card at Horn­cas­tle Arena, and was trav­el­ling back to Queen­stown when he was told about the aneurysm.

“I was train­ing well in the gym and ev­ery­thing was go­ing per­fectly,” he said. “I com­pletely re­spect the process [to screen all fight­ers].

“We don’t know when it has oc­curred — I may have had it my whole life.

“I don’t think this is the end of it,” he said of his box­ing ca­reer.

Had­low said he will at­tend the event to sup­port his fel­low fight­ers. He also works as a per­sonal trainer and part-time youth worker.

“I help peo­ple make the right choices with the wis­dom gained from mak­ing a few wrong ones when I was younger,” he said.

Had­low’s aneurysm was found be­cause of Duco Events’ in­sis­tence that all fight­ers on the Parker v Flores card in Christchurch un­dergo an MRI scan due to the re­cent deaths and se­vere head in­juries that have blighted the sport.

Last month, Christchurch man Kain Par­sons died af­ter a cor­po­rate fight in the city.

Duco’s David Hig­gins was re­luc­tant to say he felt vin­di­cated by the aneurysm dis­cov­ery but added: “To max­imise safety was an ob­vi­ous step. It would have been nice if no is­sues had been picked up but I tell you what, I’m re­lieved we have taken this step as we could have had an­other tragedy on our hands.”

I com­pletely re­spect the process [to screen all fight­ers]. We don’t know when it has oc­curred — I may have had it my whole life.

Boxer Richie Had­low

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