Boxer Richie Hadlow, whose fledgling professional career remains in the balance after a routine pre-fight MRI scan revealed a brain aneurysm, is used to fighting back from adversity.

Eleven years ago, the then 20-year-old broke his neck in a gymnastics competition but refused to let the accident hold him back.

Eager to see how he would fare inside the ropes, Hadlow, who took up boxing only seven years ago, became a national amateur champion in his new sport and represented New Zealand at this year's Gold Coast Commonwealth Games.

He was to make his professional debut on the Joseph Parker v Alexander Flores undercard in Christchurch next Saturday but the MRI scan, newly mandatory for all fighters on Duco Events cards, ended that.


Hadlow, 31, who fights in the lightweight division, is yet to see a specialist and is refusing to call time on boxing just yet. His recovery from the trauma of fracturing two vertebrae in his previous sport suggests he has the spirit to overcome his latest issue.

"I was doing a 2 somersault on the vault and over-rotated it and landed square on my head," Hadlow, who lives in Queenstown, told the Herald on Sunday.

"I opted out of surgery. I was in a halo brace for six months and in an Aspen brace for another three. They wanted to fuse [the vertebrae] but ... had they fused them, there was no way I was doing any kind of sport.

"I've been hurt a lot more outside the ring than inside it."

Hadlow said he had just sparred 24 rounds in camp with Christchurch super welterweight Bowyn Morgan, who is fighting on the card at Horncastle Arena, and was travelling back to Queenstown when he was told about the aneurysm.

"I was training well in the gym and everything was going perfectly," he said. "I completely respect the process [to screen all fighters].

"We don't know when it has occurred - I may have had it my whole life.

"I don't think this is the end of it," he said of his boxing career.

Hadlow said he will attend the event to support his fellow fighters. He also works as a personal trainer and part-time youth worker.

"I help people make the right choices with the wisdom gained from making a few wrong ones when I was younger," he said.

Hadlow's aneurysm was found because of Duco Events' insistence that all fighters on the Parker v Flores card in Christchurch undergo an MRI scan due to the recent deaths and severe head injuries that have blighted the sport.

Last month, Christchurch man Kain Parsons died after a corporate fight in the city.

Duco's David Higgins was reluctant to say he felt vindicated by the aneurysm discovery but added: "To maximise safety was an obvious step. It would have been nice if no issues had been picked up but I tell you what, I'm relieved we have taken this step as we could have had another tragedy on our hands."