N.B. boxer David Whittom remembered by those closest to him

Friends, family and colleagues of David Whittom, the boxer who died after sustaining serious injuries in his final bout, are remembering the man following his death on Friday.

The New Brunswick-born boxer passed away Friday, 10 months after sustaining serious injuries during a match

Jelena Zerdoner says "I don't have the words to explain what I feel inside" after her boyfriend David Whittom passed away Friday from serious injuries sustained in his final boxing match in May 2017. (David Whittom/Facebook)

Friends, family and colleagues of David Whittom, the boxer who died after sustaining a traumatic brain injury in his final bout, are remembering the man following his death Friday in Fredericton. 

Whittom, a native of St. Quentin, N.B., was rushed to hospital following what was intended to be the final fight of his career in Fredericton in May 2017 . He underwent surgery for a brain hemorrhage after which he was placed in an induced coma. 

"This time I said to myself, it's real," said Whittom's girlfriend Jelana Zerdoner on Sunday. "This time, he's really not here anymore." 

David Whittom, on the left in this picture, suffered a traumatic brain injury in a championship fight in May in Fredericton. (Ellen TS Photography)

"The hardest thing is to accept that it's really finished right now," said Zerdoner from Quebec. "Because the 10 months that he was in a coma and unconscious it was like 'okay, I understand the situation, I accept it, but I knew that he's still here that he's still alive.'"  

Whittom turned 39 on March 10.

"When they called me to tell me that he's dead, I thought 'Oh my god, now it's really true. It's real. He left,'" said Zerdoner. "I can't see him anymore."  

The finality is hard, she said. "And I don't have the words to explain what I feel inside." 

Whittom, a native of Saint-Quentin, N.B., started boxing when he was a teenager. He was competing in cruiserweight in his final championship match. (David Whittom/Facebook)

Zerdoner said she will miss Whittom's strength.

"He always protected me," she said.

"He was always the person who was so strong, and he always showed me how to be stronger than I am." 

Whittom's obituary, published Sunday morning, states "David was a professional boxer and spent a great deal of his time in the ring. It was the greatest passion of his life." 

David Whittom, on the left in this picture, died 10 months after this May 2017 match in Fredericton. (Ellen TS Photography)

Whittom lost to his opponent, Gary Kopas of Saskatoon, in the 10th round of their fight. Both men were competing for the Canadian Professional Boxing Council cruiserweight championship.

"It's just a horrible situation," wrote Kopas to CBC News on Saturday. "I feel for his family and friends." 

In October, the New Brunswick Combat Sport Commission said an internal review found no wrongdoing or neglect with the boxing match.

Family will receive condolences on Monday, March 26, in Fredericton at the Église Sainte-Anne-des-Pays-Bas Catholic church, followed by a memorial mass at 2 p.m.