By Terence Dooley
Heywood's Kieran Farrell, 14-1 (3), has been left devastated after his doctor confirmed that the head injuries sustained in December's 10-round decision defeat to Anthony Crolla for the vacant English lightweight have ended his boxing career.
'Dr Hewitt confirmed my worst fears today. I will never box again,' said Farrell, who broke the bad news via a statement earlier this evening. 'The next punch to my head could be fatal and the BBBofC wouldn't licence me. I asked if I had a four-year long break would I be able to box? He told me I have long-term brain damage and once its damaged it won't mend. I was expecting the worse but its worse when it’s told to you, I'm heart broke. I need a few days to get my head round it.'
Farrell sustained a slight bleed and swelling to the brain after going toe-to-toe with Crolla, a former British champion at the weight, and was kept in hospital for observation for a few days before being told to rest over the Christmas period.
The 22-year-old boxing fanatic had held out hope of a return, but will now have to benefit the sport in another way. Indeed, many within the trade, including Crolla, believe that the all-action fighter will carve out a prominent role in the sport he loves despite this setback.
For many fans, the meeting with Crolla, which was BoxingScene’s pick for U.K. FOTY, will be their defining memory of Farrell’s career, but this writer's abiding memory of "Vicious" stems from his debut. Farrell turned professional with a decision win over Gary Sheil in January 2009. Sheil had lost his previous seven contests by decision only for Farrell to hand him a third-round TKO defeat. It was an impressive first outing for Farrell, who weighed 112lbs on the night, he then moved through the divisions as he physically matured.
Shortly before the Sheil fight, I sat down with Farrell to conduct an interview. Unlike most fledgling pros he was not at a loss for words and we raced through 30-minutes, he looked and talked like a choirboy so it was a quite a surprise when he stepped between the ropes and went at Sheil with impunity on that cold night in Blackpool.
Those in attendance at Blackpool's Tower Circus venue felt that they had taken in the first step of a career that was destined for titles, and, be it as a trainer or manager, there could still be titles down the line for Farrell, who lives and breathes the sport.
Dave Coldwell, who promoted the meeting between Farrell and Crolla, has already announced that he will hold a benefit dinner to raise money for his former fighter. It is a big gesture and, given Farrell’s ability to talk up a storm, is likely to be an event to remember. Throw in Farrell’s tenacious nature and there is every likelihood that this is the start of a new chapter in, rather than the end of, his boxing story.
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