London-based boxer Sherif Lawal has died after he collapsed in the ring during his professional debut on Sunday.

In the opening bout of a four-fight card promoted by Costakis Evangelou, 29-year-old Lawal took on Malam Varela in a bout scheduled for six rounds at Harrow Leisure Centre.

In the fourth round, a right hand from Varela landed on the temple of Lawal, who then dropped to the canvas. Referee Lee Every began his count but recognised that Lawal was in distress and immediately halted the bout.

According to a BoxingScene source at ringside, the contest had been evenly fought until the end of the third round when Lawal was stunned by “a right hand over the jab that landed seconds before the bell sounded.

“They both exchanged on the bell and the referee, Lee Every, pulled them apart. Lawal then came out with a high guard to start the fourth, he looked fine. He took the right hand to the temple and his back was to the ropes, he span round and then fell on his haunches.”

Lawal’s trainer, CJ Hussein, tended to his stricken boxer as the British Boxing Board of Control’s ringside doctors and paramedics administered CPR for “10-15 minutes” before a defibrillator was employed for several minutes in the ring.

Lawal was taken to the nearby Northwick Park hospital where he was pronounced dead with the cause of death a cardiac arrest.

The remainder of the card was cancelled.

Robert Smith, General Secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control, told BoxingScene, “It’s a tragic incident and we’re all in shock. We’re now in the process of gathering all the reports from the officials, doctors and paramedics to attempt to ascertain exactly what happened.

“His boxing medicals were all in order and we have a report from his GP stating he was fit and well. It’s an awful, tragic thing to happen.”

Sherif, of Islington, had been boxing since 2018 and last year he competed in the National Elite Championships before turning professional earlier this year. At the time Hussein described Lawal “as a real inspiration to all the younger boxers in the gym” when talking to the Camden New Journal.

The British Boxing Board of Control said in a statement: “Condolences to the family of Sherif Lawal following his tragic passing.

“The thoughts of all those involved in boxing in Great Britain are with them at this difficult time.”

Warren Boxing Management, who represented Lawal, added, “We would like to send our condolences to all of Sherif’s family, friends, coaches and all those close to him at this tragic time.”