Clitheroe boxer Blackledge defends the noble art following the death of Mike Towell

Scottish boxer Mike Towell who died last week
Scottish boxer Mike Towell who died last week

Luke Blackledge conceded that he’d be lost without boxing in the wake of renewed cries for the sport to be banned.

Doctors, health experts and politicians have repeated demands for its proscription following the tragic death of Scottish fighter Mike Towell.

The 25-year-old was stretchered from the ring last week after a fifth round loss to Dale Evans in a British title eliminator in Glasgow and died at the city’s Queen Elizabeth University hospital due to severe bleeding to the brain.

The tragic incident comes just six months after Nick Blackwell was forced to cut short his career when he was put in to an induced coma having sustained a serious head injury in a contest with Chris Eubank Jr.

“It’s incredibly sad,” said the former Commonwealth super-middleweight champion. “It just shows the risks that we take.

“It’s not only in the ring, it’s in training and sparring as well. The body takes a lot of punishment constantly, there’s a lot of wear and tear because you’re hammering your body every day.

“We don’t get paid like footballers either so it’s a very tough game. Anything can happen in boxing, just look at the Eubank Jr and Nick Blackwell fight.”

He added: “They’ll never ban boxing though. There’s too much money involved in the sport. It would be heart-breaking if it happened.

“I would be in a bad way and that would be the same for many boxers. But these tragic incidents don’t just happen in boxing, they’re occurring across all types of sport.

“Banning boxing would end a lot of people’s dreams. I was heading down the wrong path and it has rescued me. It took me off the streets, taught me discipline and now I’m fighting on Sky Sports.”

The 26-year-old Clitheroe fighter is preparing for his shot at the British title at 168lbs on November 26th against the current incumbent of the Lonsdale Belt, Callum Smith.

Having won the purse bids, Matchroom promoter Eddie Hearn is expected to announce the bout on the undercard of Anthony Joshua’s second IBF World heavyweight title defence at the Manchester Arena imminently.

“I had a top spar this week against a top prospect in Jack Cullen so everything is going well,” he said. “He’s a big light-heavyweight, he’s strong and a big puncher.

“He’s the spitting image of Callum Smith so it was good preparation for my British title fight in November. I’m feeling really good and I’m ready to go.

“It means everything to me. I’ve been put on a massive show, one of the biggest shows there’s been for a while.

“It’s amazing to get an opportunity to fight on the undercard of Anthony Joshua but I’m also up against one of the best fighters in the world. Millions around the world will be watching the show.

“That’s why I’ll be leaving no stone unturned in my training and nutrition. I’m putting everything in to it. I’ve gone from doing unlicensed fights to this.

“I don’t even have an amateur background. Now I’m here and I’ve had to sacrifice a lot in the process including the Commonwealth title that meant so much to me.”