Boxing: 'One tough dude' - stricken fighter battles back

Daniel MacKinnon. Photo Getty
Daniel MacKinnon. Photo Getty
Boxer Daniel MacKinnon continues to recover after suffering a life-threatening injury that resulted in brain surgery yesterday.

The 30-year-old veteran pro sustained bleeding on his brain after losing a brutal light heavyweight contest with Robert 'The Butcher' Berridge on the undercard of David Tua's fight against Alexander Ustinov in Hamilton.

He was rushed to Waikato Hospital's intensive care unit for treatment and has since shown positive signs of recovery.

MacKinnon's manager Ken Reinsfield said the boxer's condition continued to improve overnight.

"Yesterday he was talking only six or eight hours after having the back of his skull opened up - it's pretty amazing really."

It was too early to know if there would be any long-term damage, Reinsfield said.

"The fact that he was able to speak so quickly after the operation was very good and very encouraging."

It was also too early to know if the injury had ended MacKinnon's boxing career.

MacKinnon's wife and three young children had coped "exceptionally well in very, very difficult circumstances".

"It's going to be pretty difficult for them in the short-term."

MacKinnon was stopped by Berridge in the 10th round of the fight in which both boxers were knocked down.

He ended the fight on his feet when it was stopped by the referee, and was able to conduct a post-fight interview in the ring.

However, about 15 minutes after the fight he complained of head pains as he was preparing to take a shower, and was taken to the hospital.

After emerging from an induced coma following surgery, MacKinnon wiggled his fingers and toes - a positive sign.

"Bloody hell, he's one tough dude," Reinsfield said.

"He sounds fine. He's good. Typical Dan, all he's worrying about is his family, making sure his family is okay. He wasn't worried about himself."

Reinsfield, who also manages Shane Cameron, said there was no rhyme or reason why MacKinnon suffered serious brain injury in his 30th professional fight.

"It's a sad part of a brutal sport. From time to time it happens. The object of boxing is to punch people, punch them in the head, and there are risks associated with that. All boxers know that when they strap on the gloves."

Promoter Dean Lonergan of Duco Events said his thoughts were with MacKinnon and his family.

All possible safety precautions had been taken, Mr Lonergan said.

"In any sporting environment whether it be horse riding, rugby league or rugby union people get injured," he said.

"As an organiser of any show you make sure all of the safety precautions are in place. The fact that we had doctors on hand, an ambulance on hand and the hospital was only five minutes away was a very good thing. That's all we can do."

New Zealand Professional Boxing Association president Lance Revill said there was nothing unusual about the fight that would have indicated anyone would be seriously hurt.

- Steve Deane of the NZ Herald

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