Pro boxer dies after pounding
By PETER PUSAL in The National,
TRAGEDY has struck the professional ranks of PNG boxing after 23-year-old Manus welterweight Joel Hayeu succumbed to injuries sustained during his professional debut in a boxing show held last June 21 in Port Moresby.
Hayeu, from the Pontoon boxing club of Manus, who fought a torrid six-rounder against Hohola boxing club fighter Kevin Baki, collapsed in his corner after the bout, having only moments earlier congratulated his conqueror after losing a unanimous decision to the 37-year-old Baki.
He died last Saturday after being comatose for six days.
The young Manusian was commended at ringside by many who witnessed the bout, saying he had shown “unbelievable” courage in a fight he was losing on the cards.
Experienced former Australian lightweight champion and current trainer Jeff Malcolm, a man credited with more than 30 years in boxing business, was distress at the manner in which the bout was handled, saying it should have been stopped earlier.
“That kid was hurt pretty bad, and it was clear for everyone to see that he was taking a beating, but for some reason, he was allowed to finish the fight,” Malcolm said of Hayeu.
“He fought with a lot of heart, and I don’t think I ever saw a braver fighter in all my time.”
The PNG Professional Boxing Federation-promoted “Contender” series was geared towards providing a pathway for aspiring professional boxers in the country to eventually compete for regional titles and gain world rankings.
The PNG Professional Boxing Control Board, the body tasked with regulating pro boxing, is inactive after years of dormancy.
In the shadow of this latest tragedy, calls have been made for the Government to re-establish the board.
A grieving John Hayeu said in Pidgin yesterday he was greatly aggrieved by his son’s demise, adding that his immediate concern was to take his boy home.