Former three-division world champion Jeff Fenech remains in a Bangkok hospital facing surgery after being diagnosed with a severe heart infection.
The 55-year-old was in Thailand training boxers including Jack Brubaker when he began coughing up blood on Friday and was rushed to hospital.
“It’s shell-shocking news for everybody. He’s just in a lot of pain and dealing with a lot of emotions at the moment, every ten minutes something else transpires,” Fenech’s longtime friend Dominic Jarvis told 9News.
“He is in a lot of pain. I’ve never seen him like this. He hasn’t slept for at least six days. He can’t sleep and when he does go to nod off, he struggles to breathe, so he’s too scared to sleep.”
The infection blocked a valve in his heart and caused bleeding on his lungs.
“Fortunately, the boys ignored the aggressive calls to leave him alone and called an ambulance,” Jarvis continued.
“It’s a struggle for someone like Jeff, you think they’re invincible but in this case it really sends a shiver up your spine. He’s got a battle ahead of him.”
Fenech will have heart surgery today to replace the faulty valve with a new tissue valve, which should last for 10 years.
The recovery time for heart surgery means Fenech will be forced to remain in Thailand and miss his eldest daughter Jessica’s wedding in a fortnight’s time.
“They were going to wait until the infection was well under control. Today it doesn’t matter. It’s scheduled for tomorrow,” Jarvis said.
“This is heart surgery. This is heart surgery for someone who already has a major infection. So we’re worried. But he’s in good hands.”
Fenech has received messages of support from around the globe, including from former undisputed heavyweight champion Mike Tyson, who Fenech trained in 2005.
‘The Marrickville Mauler’ was inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in 2002.