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Posted at: Feb 26, 2018, 10:18 PM; last updated: Feb 26, 2018, 10:18 PM (IST)

British boxer dies after winning heavyweight bout

London, February 26

British boxer Scott Westgarth has died after falling ill following a heavyweight bout on Saturday.

Westgarth looked uncomfortable as he was interviewed ringside after his points victory over Dec Spelman in Doncaster and was taken to hospital having deteriorated backstage.

The 31-year-old, who had been chasing an English title fight, died in Royal Hallamshire Hospital.

"God bless Scott Westgarth. To promote a boxing show and a young man doing a job he loves losing his life, I have no words," Stefy Bull, Westgarth's promoter, wrote on social media on Monday.

Spelman also reacted to the news.

"Absolutely heartbroken and lost for words, all continue to pray for Scott's family and the people close to him rest easy my friend," he said on Twitter. 

The death of Westgarth was described as a disaster by British Boxing chief Robert Smith on Monday although he said it was impossible to make the sport 100 per cent safe.

It was the first death in professional boxing since Canada's Tim Hague died two days after a fight last June.

A year earlier Scotland's Mike Towell died from a brain injury following a bout.

Smith, a former boxer and now the British Boxing Board of Control's general secretary, reacted with shock to the latest death in a sport often criticised for its brutal nature.

"It's terrible for the sport and terrible for the family and we send our condolences to Scott's family," Smith told Reuters.

Smith said the sport had made huge advances in safety since the 1980s and that Britain had an enviable record.

"We are one of the most forward-thinking commissions in the world regarding medical aspects," he said. "Some people don't like us because they say we are too strict.

"This is a tough tough sport and we try to make it as safe as possible but you can't make it 100 percent safe," he added.

"But that doesn't take away from the fact that this is a disaster, but more importantly it's a disaster for his family and that's the most important thing." Events such as Westgarth's death inevitably lead to soul-searching by those in the sport and fuel the debate about the sport's ethics.

"We all do this for a reason. But that doesn't take away the feeling I have today of 'why am I doing this?'," Smith said.

"We will continue. If it's not me it will be someone else. But it makes you question why you are bothering." - Reuters

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