Tuesday, May 30, 2023  |


The death of Mike Towell: We need to do more

Fighters Network

The fight took place on Thursday at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Glasgow, Scotland, which is less than a half hour’s drive from where this reporter is now. In fact, I cut my teeth covering contests at that venue and others around the city for several years.

Mike Towell, from Dundee, Scotland, was floored in the opening round by Dale Evans, a former British and Commonwealth title challenger, but bravely battled his way back into the contest. In the fifth, however, another knockdown by Evans prompted the referee to stop the bout in favor of the more experienced Welshman.

Towell received oxygen but had to be removed from the ring on a stretcher before being taken to the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital in Glasgow. He was placed on life-support overnight but the heartbreaking decision to switch it off was made on Friday morning.

Towell’s partner of eight years, Chloe Ross, with whom he had a young son, issued the following statement via Facebook: “I’m absolutely heartbroken to say my annoying best friend passed away tonight at 11.02 very peacefully.

“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.”

In a cruel twist of fate, the Towell-Evans bout was officiated by Victor Loughlin, who also refereed the near-fatal middleweight contest between Chris Eubank Jr. and Nick Blackwell, which took place in London six months ago. Blackwell, who was stopped in the 10th round, was placed in a medically induced coma afterwards but went on to make a full recovery.

Loughlin, an outstanding official with almost 20 years of experience, has already been targeted by ridiculous newspaper rags eager to make up gothic horror stories about this connection. Anyone with a vested interest in the sport would do well to ignore such repulsive junk.

What cannot be ignored, however, is the other piece of information that Miss Ross revealed on Facebook. “(Michael) had been complaining of headaches for the last few weeks but we put it down to migraines with the stress of his fight,” she said.

Now, stress may very well have been the reason for these headaches but what if Towell entered the ring on Thursday injured?

In a feature I wrote for the August issue of RING magazine, entitled “Fighter Safety,” I spoke to acclaimed Las Vegas physician Dr. Margaret Goodman who, while supporting referee Loughlin on his handling of the Blackwell-Eubank bout, had this to say: “It’s rare for any fighter to disclose what happened in training but I can tell you from personal, sad experience that in almost every instance where we’ve had a fighter pass away, there has been some kind of injury sustained in the gym,” said Goodman.

“We all know that headgear is not preventative and any punch you take to the head is one less punch you need to take to the head. We want fighters to have healthy training practices and too much sparring is not a healthy training practice. Further education for fighters and trainers on these risks would be very useful and it’s also the reasons why I would like an MRI scan to be conducted before each and every bout.

“I may sound conservative but I’ve been there when a fighter has been taken off life-support and I’ve been there when a fighter has passed away.”

In the wake of Towell’s tragic passing, the practices that Goodman hopes to see implemented are far from conservative. It may be costly but that shouldn’t matter a damn when there’s a small chance of saving a 25-year-old kid who risked and ultimately lost his life while providing for his family. Even an increase in MRI scans would be a positive step.

THE RING would like to extend condolences to Mike Towell’s family, his trainers and management, as well as Dale Evans, his team and bout referee Loughlin.

Tom Gray is a U.K. Correspondent/ Editor for RingTV.com and a member of THE RING ratings panel. Follow him on Twitter: @Tom_Gray_Boxing