Richie Hadlow has been withdrawn from the Joseph Parker v Alexander Flores undercard after a routine pre-fight MRI scan picked up what has been described as an abnormality in his brain.

Hadlow, who fights in the lightweight division and represented New Zealand at the Commonwealth Games this year, underwent the examination as a result of promotion company Duco Events' push to improve the safety of boxers on their cards.

It would have been the 31-year-old Hadlow's professional debut and his boxing career is now in question. He was "devastated" at having to be withdrawn, Duco's David Higgins said, but recognises it was for his own good.

"Unfortunately Richie Hadlow won't be able to fight again until he is medically cleared," Higgins said. "That was a result of that MRI process and we were told that otherwise that issue might not have been picked up.

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"We feel for Richie – he's devastated he can't fight on the card but he also understands that his safety is paramount. The next step for Richie is that he sees a specialist neurologist for a full assessment about what the prognosis looks like going forward."

Higgins, asked if the discovery vindicated his harder line on safety, said: "I wouldn't say 'vindicate', but to maximise safety it was an obvious step. We 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."

Hadlow, a former top gymnast, only took up boxing seven years ago at the age of 24. The Queenstown resident was to fight Dunedin's Ricky Curline at Christchurch's Horncastle Arena on the Parker v Flores card a week on Saturday.

Higgins said he wouldn't find a replacement fighter and that there would be one fewer fight on the card.