Boxing: `Lucky' Oliver insists he still loves his sport

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The Independent Online
SPENCER OLIVER yesterday admitted he felt fortunate to be alive after suffering life-threatening injuries in a fight 12 days ago.

The former European bantamweight champion had emergency surgery to remove a blood clot from his brain following his 10th-round defeat by Ukraine's Sergei Devakov at the Royal Albert Hall on 2 May.

At first, it was feared Oliver - who was one of Britain's brightest prospects before the accident - would die, but he has made a remarkable recovery and was able to walk out of hospital on Wednesday.

The Londoner, who will never box again, revealed: "I feel a bit lucky at the moment, to tell the truth. I feel like I've got a second bite of the cherry. I don't remember anything of the night at all. I can just remember waking up in the hospital and thinking: `What am I doing here?' I just thought I'd been knocked out - I didn't think it was as serious as it was. They told me afterwards that I had a very slim chance of surviving. Before then they didn't have much hope for me. I'm just lucky that I'm alive."

Oliver's injuries have led to renewed calls from the medical profession for boxing to be banned. However, the 23-year-old said: "I think it's still got to carry on. There's too much money involved in boxing, and it's a great sport.

"What happened to me doesn't change my views of things. I still love the sport as much as I did beforehand and if I could do it all again, I'd do it the same. I'd let my son be a boxer if he wanted to be, though I wouldn't force him into it because it's a tough sport."

The British welterweight champion Geoff McCreesh has been fined pounds 5,000 by the Boxing Board of Control after testing positive for a banned substance following last November's European title defeat by Michele Piccirillo in Novara, Italy. McCreesh has lodged an appeal.