SOMETIMES it’s not only the loser who feels the pain. Grant Quigley’s first boxing contest for five-and-a-half years in late April ought to have been a cause for celebration, especially when he marked his comeback by landing a knock-out blow in the fifth round.

The Port Glasgow man let out a visceral roar as the referee waved off the bout while his noisy band of followers inside Glasgow’s Radisson Blu hotel leapt to their feet in spontaneous delight. This was a moment Quigley had been looking forward to for some time, a day he had started to fear would never come around again as he struggled to reignite his career following an extended break.

Joy, though, would prove fleeting. With defeated opponent Luis Palmer still prone on the canvas, a concerned hush fell over the room as those who had gathered at the St Andrew’s Sporting Club to pay tribute to Kash Farooq – including world champion Josh Taylor and European, Commonwealth and British title-holder Lee McGregor – watched as medical staff entered the ring. Palmer exited shortly afterwards on a stretcher before being taken by ambulance to hospital.

Reports would start to filter back that the Sheffield-based boxer had suffered a bleed on the brain and had been placed in an induced coma. With memories still fresh of Mike Towell’s death six years ago following a fight in the same ring, it was only natural that those present at this one would start to fear the worst for Palmer.

Mercifully after a fortnight receiving critical care, the father-of-two was back on his feet and “on the road to recovery”. That came as a huge sense of relief to the entire boxing community, including Quigley. Every fighter appreciates what they are signing up for at the outset of their career, knows that heavy fists can do as much damage as any knife or gun. To see that dreaded scenario unfold in front of their eyes, however, is another matter altogether.

Quigley did not enjoy his success one bit, the elation quickly seeping away to be replaced by a lingering sense of anxiety as he awaited news of his vanquished opponent’s condition. The 27 year-old, of course, had done nothing wrong beyond showing his superior boxing technique but that was precious little comfort while Palmer was laid up in a hospital bed fighting for his life.

“It didn’t feel real and I didn’t enjoy winning,” admitted Quigley. “It’s hard to explain but I just couldn’t get one bit of happiness from the victory.

“Now that I know Luis is okay and started his recovery I’ve started to feel a wee bit more positive. But immediately after it happened it was just horrible.

“I had quite a few folk along to watch me but there wasn’t any element of celebration afterwards. I was just more concerned about Luis who was in a coma and just hoping he was going to be okay.

“We all know these are the dangers of a sport like boxing but it still takes you by shock when it happens. Thankfully that kind of thing doesn’t happen very often. It’s like a freak accident in a way, it’s just not something you expect.

“When the paramedics came into the ring that’s when I knew it was serious. Luis wasn’t responding and had lost consciousness and then they had the oxygen mask on him and took him away on the stretcher.

“Iain Wilson, my promoter, was keeping me up to speed with a phone call or text every couple of hours at the start when we didn’t know what was happening and then every day after that. My coach met with Luis’ mum and passed on a card signed by us all and I made a donation to his Just Giving page too.

“I didn’t do anything for a week. I was at my work but I didn’t train as my head was all over the place. Beforehand I had pictured it being so much different and with me being on a high but it wasn’t like that at all. It was just a massive relief for me knowing he’s going to be alright. He’s hopefully going to be healthy and can enjoy his life with his kids and that’s the main thing.”

Palmer almost certainly won’t lace up a boxing glove again and for a few days Quigley wondered whether this might spell the end for him, too. Having seen up close the devastating effects of a perfectly-timed left hook, the light-heavyweight naturally had cause to ponder what life would have been like if it had been him on the receiving end.

Quigley, though, has looked deep into his soul and decided to soldier on. He returns to the same ring in Glasgow this evening, if anything more determined to make the most of the opportunities now closed to Palmer.

“It was really unfortunate what happened to Luis but I’m going to carry on”, he added. “It’s an occupational hazard in boxing and could happen to anyone. When you’re sitting talking about it, it sounds quite scary but as soon as you enter the ring that possible outcome isn’t in your mind one bit. You have to be focused on the job.

“I think people would have understood if I had decided I didn’t want to do this anymore. And the thought did cross my mind, ‘do I really want to be doing this?’ with the serious risks involved. But I’m in my prime fighting years and physically able to do it so I want to keep going. I don’t want to quit now and regret it when I’m older.”