Close is compelled to pull out

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BOXING : Ray Close has been forced to withdraw from his fight with the World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight champion, Chris Eubank, in Belfast on 11 February following irregularities in a brain scan. The British Boxing Board of Control refused tosanction the bout.

Close, who is 26 on Friday, should have met Eubank for the third time after two controversial failures to win the title. The Belfast boxer gained a draw in Glasgow in May 1993 and lost on points in Belfast a year later. Many felt he had won both bouts, and he was confident of succeeding at the third attempt.

John Morris, the Board's general secretary, said: "The latest CT scan raised queries. Obviously, there has to be an investigation in our interests."

Steve Collins, the 30-year-old Dubliner who won the WBO middleweight title by stopping Chris Pyatt in Sheffield last year, is lined up to step up a division and take Close's place.

Close, who faces the possibility of having his career terminated, has said he wants a second opinion.