Bristol boxer Dean Francis has died at the age of 44. Francis, known as ‘The Star’, finally lost his battle with terminal cancer on Friday, SkySports reports.
Francis, who won titles at super-middleweight, light-heavyweight and cruiserweight in his 20-year career, leaves wife Ghalia and young son Rocco.
Sky Sports Head of Boxing Adam Smith said: “Dean Francis was a wonderful and exciting fighter who we spent so much time with in the early days of Sky Sports.
He should have been a world champion, but moreover, he was a world-class man. I adored him and his toughest fight in recent months has been so brave and so admirable.
“Dean always had time for others and the whole family worked so hard to raise money. Our hearts go out to Ghalia and Rocco and all his many friends and family. Dean will be hugely missed by the whole boxing world and all of us at Sky.”
Francis was originally from Basingstoke and his amateur career saw him lose to Joe Calzaghe in the Amateur Boxing Association tournament.
He turned pro in 1994 at the age of 20 and in his 19th fight picked up the British super-middleweight title, but then suffered a dislocated shoulder during a Halloween fight in 1998 and didn’t box for three-and-a-half years.
He returned in 2003 and within two years added the English cruiserweight belt, then added the British and Commonwealth titles to his resume.
In 2009 Francis was not the first or last fighter to take on Prizefighter, but his 2014 showdown with Bob Ajisafe, for the vacant English light-heavyweight championship, proved to be his last.
Francis has since had gyms around Bristol, and after he was diagnosed with a rare form of terminal cancer, has continued to raise funds for other sports people who are suffering similar battles.
His former coach Chris Saniger, Calzaghe and Chris Eubank Sr, were among the big names who had supported his fight and went to see him this week.