Boxing "Safe" Says Ricky Burns

3 October 2016, 19:04 | Updated: 3 October 2016, 19:08

World champion Ricky Burns struggled to put his feelings about the Mike Towell tragedy into words but he believes boxing is fundamentally safe.

The 25-year-old Dundee fighter died in hospital on Friday night after being knocked out by Dale Evans in a welterweight title eliminator at Glasgow's Radisson Blu Hotel the previous evening.

The diagnosis at the city's Queen Elizabeth University Hospital revealed severe bleeding and swelling to his brain and afterwards brain injury charity Headway called for boxing to be banned.

However, after a public workout in the St Enoch Centre in Glasgow, ahead of his WBA super-lightweight title defence against Kiryl Relikh at the city's SSE Hydro Arena on Friday night, Burns, 33, said: "My heart goes out to his family. It is a hard thing to put into words.

"Every boxer knows the risks when they climb through those ropes.

"That is why I have so much respect for anybody, amateur to pros, you have to give them the respect they deserve.

"All the various boxing boards have their own rules and regulations.

"Obviously they check and make sure the camp is going well, the weight is okay, you are not doing anything drastic.

"You obviously have your medicals every year which are quite thorough as well.

"So I think the sport is safe but accidents do happen which is why I say you have to respect everybody no matter what level they are at.''

Relikh, from Belarus, fights under the guidance of former world champion Ricky Hatton, who set up the JustGiving fundraising page for Towell's partner, Chloe Ross, and young son, Rocco.

Contributions have passed the £30,000 mark, 50 per cent more than the original target.

Hatton described Towell's death as "heartbreaking'' but insists any questions about the safety of the sport would be "very unfair''.

"It doesn't happen often but when it does happen it is an absolute tragedy,'' he said.

"I set up a JustGiving page but the whole boxing community has rallied round it and that is what it is all about.

"Being a father myself I can't even imagine what the family is going through. It is tragic.

"It is heartbreaking to see one of your own pass away like that.

"My heart goes out to the family and that's why I did a JustGiving page and I hope it will help.''