On Monday 7th January, 22 year old Manchester boxer Kieran Farrell was told that he would never be allowed to box again. Farrell (15-1-0, KO3) collapsed before the decision was announced of his fight with Anthony Crolla (25-4-0 KO9) on December 7th and was taken to hospital where the doctors treated him for exhaustion and swelling to the brain.It soon came evident that this was far more serious than exhaustion as Farrell revealed, via twitter that he had in fact suffered a degree of brain damage. Fighthype managed to get a word with the 22 year old as he went into detail about the very unfortunate circumstance he now finds himself in.
“It was very bad for my mum, dad and brother to see” narrated Farrell. “My brother didn’t sleep for two weeks because he kept having flashbacks of what happened to me.”
At this stage of the interview the man from Heywood was clearly choked up as he recalled the mood in the hospital when he woke up. The stutter was replaced with the constant repetition of “I don’t know” as words began to fail him when explaining the ordeal. On the 7th of January, the current Central Area lightweight champion went to have a scheduled scan to see if there had been any long lasting damage or if he could ever fight again.
“There was a scan set up but they never did one. I went in the office and he broke the news to me and he could see I was getting upset as I had a lump in my throat and felt like crying. But he, the neurosurgeon, said to me, “Kieran I’m happy you walked in here by yourself because we expected you to come in a wheelchair.” If you had said to me, would you put your life on the line to fight Anthony Crolla, I would have said yes but now it’s real. One punch to the head could kill me.”
Farrell was told that he had damaged 25% of his brain and it would be impossible to fight again or get a licence from the British Boxing Board of Control. Dedicating his childhood, adolescent and adult years to nothing but boxing, ‘Vicious’ found the decision difficult to accept as he constantly recalls his predicament in his head over and over again.
“It’s unreal” he confesses. “I made a good recovery and I’m on my feet and I can do light training but it hasn’t sank into me yet and I think it will never sink in. I’m only 22 years old and I didn’t expect my career to end on the 7th of January. It kills me that I can’t fight.”
Dave Coldwell brought Farrell into the higher echelons of the domestic lightweight rankings in the summer of 2012 following a spell with Hatton Promotions and has promoted Farrell’s last four fights including the gruelling Crolla epic. The 22 year old explains his relationship with his promoter and mentor.
“He was the first person I rang and we discussed business plans with his partner, Spencer Fearn. He was saying that he will organise a benefit dinner. He’s a top man and he’s always at the end of the phone even at two in the morning. I have his and Coldwell Promotions full support.”
Farrell’s coming of age fight against Crolla on 7th Decmeber 2012, was intentionally seen as a platform for a crack at further titles in 2013. This was a big step up for “Viva La Vicious” as he looked to get his hands on a prized scalp that would have made those within the boxing community sit up and take notice. As predicted, Farrell was a handful, not letting his opponent escape and willing to trade in the centre of the ring. He was leading the fight until the half way stage, choosing to exchange rather than move around and box, landing a number of thundering shots on his opponent. However, stamina issues became apparent as Crolla came out to win on points in a British fight of the year contender.
“I was happy with the way it went and I have no excuses. I had a plan to move up to 140 after this fight and had so many different options by moving up in weight but in the end it got put out of my hands.”
“It’s funny because I boxed to instructions,” He says laughing. “I normally fight just to win but I was happy with the instructions I was getting off John Breen. I was thinking that I could win by beating Crolla on work rate so I got close, let my hands go and started pinging them off his head. That why I thought I had won the fight.”
What the Heywood man revealed next was truly disturbing. It shows the winning and warrior-like mentality that is instilled in Farrell as a man who will never give up. With Farrell landing punches at a constant rate, he was also on the receiving end of Crolla’s punches and throughout the night the effects became apparent.
“I said to my brother that around the 6th round, the right hand side of my head (When I was getting hit) felt like I had water in it. It also felt like my head was swelling but it didn’t bother me. But in one of the rounds I got hit with a shot at the end of the round and I was going to say something to John Breen but I thought I’m not going to say anything because I didn’t want him to start saying that he wants to pull me out.”
“When Crolla hit me with a shot it felt like a big left hook but it was a shot that flapped the side of my head and I could feel it to be honest. I had pains in my head and that was a constant pain in that same place, until they took me out of intensive care.”
In the second part of this fascinating interview special, Kieran Farrell reveals his future plans, public support and his views on the value of life. This is something not to be missed.