Knock-out saved Ingle's life


Paul Ingle opened his eyes yesterday for the first time since suffering severe head injuries in his world featherweight title defence in Sheffield on Saturday.

The beaten champion, who remains "critical but stable" after an operation to remove a blood clot on the brain, also made hand movements and wiped his nose and mouth. On Monday he had undergone a tracheotomy.

"Paul opened his eyes during a physiotherapy session," said his manager Frank Maloney, who visited the boxer's fiancee Samantha Coulson and Ingle's family at the Royal Hallamshire hospital. The 28year-old Scarborough featherweight has been in a drug-controlled coma since the operation.

"Paul's family were waiting outside his room during the physio and a nurse came out to tell them the good news," Maloney added. "But there's still a long way to go and we're all asking people to carry on praying for Paul and the family."

Chris Horner, a spokesman for the Royal Hallamshire, said that the neurosurgeon Robert Battersby was pleased with Ingle's progress since the International Boxing Federation fight with Mbulelo Botile. "He is still under sedation but the signs are good," Horner said.

Ingle's trainer Steve Pollard said that Battersby had told him that being knocked out saved Ingle's life. "He said that Paul's injury clearly came before he was knocked out," Pollard said. "If we'd pulled Paul out before the 12th, he'd never have had the brain scan. He'd undoubtedly have died that night."

And Pollard, who has been criticised for allowing Ingle to come out for the final round, said: "I spoke for 45 minutes with Dr Battersby yesterday and what he told me has brought great comfort.

"He knew how upset I was, especially on Saturday night given all the talk that Paul should not have been sent out for the 12th round.

"He asked for a video of the fight and has since studied it in great detail. He told me it is a blessing in disguise Paul was knocked out in the 12th round.

"He said that Paul's injury clearly came before he was knocked out. It could have been in the first round or it could have been in the 11th.

"But what he does know is that if Paul had left the arena without receiving the medical attention he did and had gone back to his room at the hotel then the next day he would have been dead - without a shadow of a doubt - and that's the opinion from the top neurological doctor in this country."

While the signs are promising Ingle will make a decent recovery, Frank Maloney is now determined to press ahead with measures to ensure such harrowing incidents do not occur again.

Top sports dietician Joe Dunbar, who currently advises Lennox Lewis, has already put forward such a simple and effective proposal as boxers sipping electrolyte drinks during bouts rather than water to help prevent dehydration.

Dunbar has also suggested boxers undergo a two-minute, £20 hydration test in between fights which if they fail they are immediately pulled out of their next bout.

Maloney is planning to go one step further by ensuring every fighter under the Sports Network banner employ dieticians and sports psychologists in the build-up to a fight.

It is a plan which he hopes every boxing stable in Britain will take up, with the obvious assistance of the British Boxing Board of Control. "I've had long meetings with Frank Warren since what happened with Paul and we've noticed these things have occurred at lower championship weights," said Maloney.