Australian boxer Dwight Ritchie has died aged 27 after a freak accident during a sparring session.

‘The Fighting Cowboy’ was helping light middleweight star Michael Zerafa prepare for his rematch with Australian legend Jeff Horn.

But during a regulation sparring session with Zerafa, Ritchie took a body punch before he walked back to his corner and collapsed, according to The Daily Telegraph.

The dad of three daughters could not be revived.

“It is with great sadness and shock to announce that ‘the fighting cowboy’ Dwight Ritchie sadly passed away today doing what he loved,” promoter and friend Jake Ellis wrote on Facebook on Saturday.

Dwight Ritchie was struck by a body shot before collapsing in his corner

Dwight Ritchie has died aged 27

“It’s unbearable to accept the tragic news that’s just surfaced.

“Dwight will always be remembered by the boxing fraternity as one of the brightest talents in Australia who’s fighting style embodied exactly how he lived.

“RIP Cowboy, you’ll be forever missed.”

Fellow boxer Luke Jackson said: “Today we lost one of our own.

Dwight Ritchie weighs in ahead of his battle with Tim Tszyu – his last fight

Dwight Ritchie in action in his last fight

“I remember having my professional debut on Dwight’s card. Sending my love to his family, loved ones and the whole of boxing Australia RIP Dwight Ritchie.”

Australian commentator Ben Damon added on Twitter : “Confirming the heartbreaking news that Australian boxer Dwight Ritchie has today passed away after a freak training accident. He was 27. RIP Cowboy.”

Ritchie had 21 professional fights and boasted a record of 19 victories, of which two came by knock out, and two defeats.

Tributes have poured in for Dwight Ritchie

His most recent fight, in August, saw him miss out on the IBF Australasian Super Welter Title in a unanimous decision to Tim Tszyu.

Tszyu posted on Facebook: “Today we lost a champion both in and out of the ring with the tragic passing of Dwight Ritchie. As a group we are all shattered , our thought and prayers go out to the Ritchie family as we all take a moment to remember a great warrior and champion. Gone to soon.”

Ritchie twiced survived cancer as baby – having fought the disease aged six months and again at 18 months.

“I can’t imagine the pain that my mother and nan went through with all the back and forth trips to doctors in Melbourne. Thankfully, since then there has be no signs of it returning,” Ritchie told AthletesVoice in August.

Ellis has set up a GoFundMe page to help Ritchie’s family.  Contributions can be made here.

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