Boxing: Close expresses his despair

Ray Close, who was to have challenged the World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight champion, Chris Eubank, before the British Boxing Board of Control decided to suspend his licence due to a recent brain scan showing abnormalities, spoke yester day ofhis disappointment.

"I still can't believe it," he said. "I'm so sad. I feel fit and ready to fight, it's so disappointing."

Barney Eastwood, his manager, said he would seek an independent examination but added: "I feel the British Boxing Board of Control will still be very reluctant to give him a licence."

Close was to have made his challenge at King's Hall in his home city of Belfast on 11 February. Steve Collins, the WBO middleweight champion from Dublin, and Close's former stablemate, has been named as his replacement.