Connor Coghill: Doncaster-trained boxer hospitalised with a bleed on brain ‘had been living in gym’
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Connor Coghill left no stone unturned ahead of his 'massive opportunity on the big stage' and slept on a sofa in Stefy Bull's Fitness and Circuit Centre in Conisbrough for ten weeks.
He caught the eye of British boxing's biggest promotion company, Matchroom, despite losing a back-and-forth contest to Hopey Price at Sheffield Arena.
A second appearance on one of their coveted shows was in the pipeline.
But, after doctors discovered a bleed on the 28-year-old's brain when took himself to hospital complaining of headaches and dizziness, his boxing career is now over.
"The main thing is he's going to live the rest of his life normal and can count his blessings nothing more serious has happened," Coghill's trainer and manager Bull told The Free Press.
"We have just taken a 28-year-old's career away from him. He's going to have to find a new life, new goals. That's why we are going to have to be there to support him."
Bull has managed featherweight Coghill's career since 2018, the year he turned professional.
The Hull-born fighter, who was unbeaten in his first 14 bouts in the paid ranks, commuted to Doncaster to train before the pandemic and relocated there again about six months ago in preparation for his British title eliminator against Price.
He told a press conference ahead of their fight on October 8: "It’s a massive opportunity for me being on the big stage, but it’s one I think I deserve.
"I’m 14-0, I’ve been hustling on the small hall shows, selling tickets, waiting for these opportunities so I have done it the hard way.
"I’ve sacrificed a lot, I’ve been sleeping on a sofa in the gym for the last ten weeks, I’ve given everything for this fight.
"I’ve done everything I can to make myself right so I am going to give everything in there.
"A win on Saturday night changes my life so I am going all in."
That he did against former Olympic youth champion Price in the home corner, who has been tipped to reach the very top as a professional.
Coghill rocked the much-fancied prospect in the early stages and kept coming despite being put down four times before referee Bob Williams eventually stopped the contest in the twelfth and final round.
"He put in the performance of his life on TV," said Bull. "Matchroom were going to give him another opportunity.
"He thought this was just the start."
Coghill's stablemate, Jason Cunningham, cornered him alongside Bull against Price and added: "That could have been a turning point. It's an even bigger blow.
"He can still be involved in boxing but it’s probably going to be the other side of the ropes now.
"He really put everything into this fight. You could see it in his performance.”
It was hoped Coghill would be well enough to leave hospital on Wednesday after a second brain scan revealed the bleed had not worsened.
The show must go on for Bull, who is promoting a boxing event at Magna in Rotherham this weekend featuring several of his fighters.
Among them is Ellie Hellewell, who is managed by Cunningham.
Coghill's injury has brought the dangers of the sport into sharp focus for both men.
"If anything happens to any fighter it lies on your conscience,” said Cunningham. “We are all devastated.
"It just shows you the dangers of professional boxing. I have got to look at it from the other point of view, the life it’s given me, the structure, purpose.
"It’s always done good for me and given me a positive life. If anything was to happen to me in the long run it’s unfortunate, but what will be will be.”
Bull admitted he had taken stock of his role as a trainer, manager and promoter in the sport, adding: “When they walk to that ring they are putting their life on the line.
"We all know what we are involved in, we all know what we have signed up to. We all hope and pray they never happen but they do, they are just around the corner.
"It’s been a hard week for me mentally, sleepless nights worried about Connor. You are questioning ‘why am I doing this?’.
"Boxing is a brutal, brutal fickle business.”
Bull, himself a former boxer, is about to enter a 15-year-old girl, Rianna Doforo, into the professional boxing ranks in Mexico, where the legal age to fight is just 15.
Rianna’s dad, Liam, has given his blessing for his daughter, who Bull believes “has the potential to become an all-time great”, to make her professional debut next month.
"She’s going to be having a lot easier fights in Mexico,” said Bull.
"The opponent she’s lined up to fight is a 40-year-old who’s had six fights and lost six.
"I’m not going to stick her in with Mikaela Mayer or Terri Harper. I’m looking for the easiest fight possible, which will one-million per cent be easier than an international contest.
"I would never dream of taking her to Mexico and putting her in with a big, tough Mexican. We are having a bit of fun and building a star.
"I wonder how many injuries happened in rugby game, or a football game (last weekend)?.”
A spokesperson for the British Boxing Board of Control, the governing body of professional boxing in the UK, was unavailable for comment on Thursday morning.