"One of the hardest days I have had to face."
Those are the heartbreaking words of Michael Zerafa as he joins the Australian boxing community in mourning following the death of 27-year-old Dwight Ritchie after a sparring incident in Melbourne on Saturday.
Ritchie took a body shot while sparring with Zerafa before walking to his corner and collapsing. He could not be revived.
Times like these make the dangers of boxing difficult to justify amid a tumultuous run for the sport, yet at the same time such edicts are not appropriate.
For a bright young man has left behind a family for whom the boxing community will rally. For, as Luke Jackson put it, "today we have lost one of our own".
The former Australian middleweight champion rose to prominence when he battled Tim Tszyu in August, suffering a decision loss that left his record at 19-2.
Ritchie's promoter Jake Ellis took to social media to confirm the news of the beloved boxer's death.
"It is with great sadness and shock to announce that the fighting cowboy Dwight Ritchie sadly passed away today doing what he loved," Ellis wrote.
"As Dwight's promoter and friend 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."
Ritchie was slated to return to the ring on December 6 for a clash with veteran Tommy Browne.
Boxing is what brings so many together. But suddenly, that December card and the entire sport is perhaps as far from anybody's mind as it could be.
- Team Ellis Boxing have started a GoFundMe page to raise money for the three children Dwight Ritchie leaves behind. Click here to donate.