Shepparton is in mourning after boxer Dwight Ritchie died tragically Saturday in a freak training injury.
Ritchie, 27, was sparring with WBA Oceania middleweight champion Michael Zerafa in Melbourne, when he was struck with a punch and unable to be revived.
The Daily Telegraph reported Ritchie was caught with a body shot, walked back to his corner and collapsed, a position from which he did not recover.
The Shepparton product was preparing for an upcoming bout with Tommy Browne, which was scheduled for December 6.
Ritchie's promoter Jake Ellis confirmed the news on Facebook, struggling to come to terms with the loss.
“It is with great sadness and shock to announce that ‘The Fighting Cowboy’ Dwight Ritchie sadly passed away today doing what he loved,” he 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 whose fighting style embodied exactly how he lived.”
Zerafa posted a picture of Ritchie on his Instagram story, writing: "One of the hardest days I've had to face. Rest easy brother.”
Fox Sports Australia boxing commentator Ben Damon told Fox Sports News Zerafa and Ritchie had been great friends.
“Michael Zerafa is as or more devastated than anyone this evening because these two men were very close friends, they were preparing each other as all sportspeople do in training, that’s all it was,” he said.
“For him to end a sparring session with a body shot and his partner to head back to his corner and then to collapse, it was just devastating for Michael and everyone else.
“To go on and see how this impacts the Australian boxing community, Michael and all the rest of the fighters, we’ll just have to wait and see.”
Ritchie shot to national fame in August when he fought undefeated Tim Tszyu on pay-per-view, a fight he lost via unanimous decision.
The former McGuire College student began boxing with Garrie Scott in Shepparton, having his first amateur fight aged 16, and would compile a 19-2 professional record.
A proud Yorta Yorta man, Ritchie wrote in a playersvoice.com.au article in August he loved his indigenous heritage and credited it with steering him away from the wrong path when growing up.
Ritchie is survived by two sons and a daughter.