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By Steve Carpenter 19/07 Updated: 19/07 09:59
TOP promoter Barry Hearn has paid tribute to a special fighter after Coventry boxer Richard Evatt was found dead at a homeless shelter.
Evatt, or the Tiger as he was more commonly known to fans, fatally collapsed at a Salvation Army hostel in Harnell Lane West, Hillfields, on Monday night.
The dad-of-three was rushed to hospital but died shortly afterwards aged just 38. A post-mortem was set to take place yesterday (Wednesday).
A 32-year-old man was arrested on suspicion of murder and has been released on police bail pending further enquiries.
Evatt was under Hearn's watchful eye as a professional following a successful amateur career and told the Observer he was sad to hear of the death.
"He was great fun and a great bloke to be around.
"He was my primary fighter and I stand by my comments that he was pound for pound one of the best hitters in the business.
"The crowd loved him, but he was a bit of a wild man.
"I think it's impossible to say how far he could have gone but he was capable of so much more."
The Observer understands Evatt had been suffering from addiction since he retired from the sport in 2002.
Hearn added: "There were temptations there and I think that proved to be his downfall and executed his demise from the sport.
"He took a wrong turn in life and his boxing paid the price."
Evatt will forever be remembered for wearing tiger-skin shorts, often accompanied with a similar hair colour.
His hard-hitting knockouts led him to a shot for the IBO featherweight championship in 1999 - but he lost out to two-weight champion Junior Jones.
But his journey began closer to home at Triumph Amateur Boxing Club in Tile Hill Lane.
His former coach, Dinesh Darbar, echoed Hearn's thoughts and said he always knew his amateur star would hit the big time.
"This is such a sad loss. We all remember his skill as an amateur at Triumph – he had everything going for him. It was a joy to work and look after him."
Other famous names in boxing have paid their tributes, with former world featherweight champion Barry McGuigan saying: "You couldn't take your eyes off him,". Joe Calzaghe simply tweeted: "R.I.P Richie Evatt."
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