Had­low’s brain scan ‘bless­ing in dis­guise’

The Southland Times - - Sport - Mat Ker­meen mat.ker­[email protected]

Fail­ing a pre-fight brain scan to fight on Joseph Parker’s un­der­card has been de­scribed as ‘‘a bless­ing in dis­guise’’ for a Kiwi boxer.

But a dev­as­tated Richie Had­low, a for­mer Com­mon­wealth Games rep­re­sen­ta­tive, is vow­ing to re­turn to the ring so long as he can do it with­out tak­ing a ‘‘silly’’ risk.

Had­low, 30, was due to make his pro­fes­sional de­but against fel­low Kiwi Ricky Curline in a light­weight con­test on the un­der­card of Parker’s bout with Alexan­der Flores in Christchurch next Satur­day.

But a pre-fight MRI scan – made manda­tory last month by Duco Events for their box­ing shows – re­vealed a brain ab­nor­mal­ity.

Duco’s move to make MRI brain scans com­pul­sory came af­ter the New Zealand Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion called for box­ing to be banned fol­low­ing the death of Christchurch man Kain Par­sons, who was knocked out at a char­ity event, last month.

Had­low, a for­mer four-time na­tional ama­teur cham­pion, has seen the MRI re­port but said he needs to seek fur­ther ad­vice from a neu­rol­o­gist be­fore hav­ing a full un­der­stand­ing of it.

‘‘I fully re­spect the de­ci­sion and I value it but I guess the im­ma­ture fighter in me wants to fight,’’ Had­low told Stuff.

‘‘You’ve got to be re­spon­si­ble and smart about things, I’m not go­ing to be silly about it but I’ll be do­ing ev­ery­thing I can in my pow­ers to re­turn.

‘‘What­ever is med­i­cally ad­vised of me, I’ll fol­low.’’

Had­low has been through some ‘‘dark days’’ since learn­ing of the ab­nor­mal­ity on Tues­day but is try­ing to see it as a pos­i­tive.

Feel­ing nor­mal made it harder to un­der­stand, he said.

‘‘I’m all good, I’m just not good enough to fight on that card.’’

Had­low, who com­pleted 24 rounds of spar­ring with two-weight na­tional cham­pion Bowyn Mor­gan be­tween the scan and get­ting the re­sult, has gone to ex­tra­or­di­nary lengths to get him­self in the best pos­si­ble shape.

He has been split­ting his time be­tween his Queen­stown base and Christchurch to train un­der Phil Shat­ford at River­side Box­ing Gym.

Shat­ford de­scribed the MRI re­sult as ‘‘a bless­ing in dis­guise’’.

‘‘It was a big op­por­tu­nity for him but he’s fit and healthy to live the rest of his life and that’s all I care about,’’ Shat­ford said.

But Had­low is de­ter­mined to keep an open mind on his fu­ture.

‘‘I un­der­stand what peo­ple mean by peo­ple say­ing it’s a bless­ing in dis­guise but when you’re a fighter and you’ve been in there do­ing the rounds . . . you just want to fight.’’

Shat­ford con­ceded he was dev­as­tated for Had­low be­cause he’s been train­ing so hard and was look­ing ex­tremely promis­ing in the gym.

‘‘Ap­par­ently he didn’t want to tell me about the re­sult of the scan be­cause he felt like he’s let­ting me down but he’s wrong.

‘‘He def­i­nitely hasn’t let any­one down at all, I’m bloody proud of him for the way he’s dealt with the whole thing.’’

But Had­low, a per­sonal trainer and youth worker who has al­ready started train­ing fighters, knows life will go on if he does not fight again.

‘‘Box­ing is not ev­ery­thing in life. I can of­fer more to my friends and fam­ily and peo­ple around me than just box­ing but at the same time I’m a fighter and I want to fight.’’

Richie Had­low

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