British boxing champion Gary Mason was killed in a cycling accident in London yesterday morning. Fellow boxer Frank Bruno has paid to tribute to a guy he “had a lot of respect for”.

Mason, 48, was riding his bike in Sandy Lane South, Wallington, south London, yesterday when he was hit by a white van. The former boxer was pronounced dead at the scene.

Once a British heavyweight champion, Mason had fought the likes of Frank Bruno and Lennox Lewis. Between 1984 to 1994 Mason fought 38 professional bouts and lost only one.

Mason’s former boxing adversary, Frank Bruno, expressed his sorrow, saying: “I’m very sorry about his death, particularly the circumstances of how it happened.

“Both of us were plying our trade at an early age and I had a lot of respect for the guy.”

Boxing promoter Frank Maloney called Mason “one of the most loveable characters in boxing.”

“It’s very sad. Gary was one of the most loveable characters in boxing. Whether he was up or down he would always have a smile and a kind word for everybody. His death is a tragedy.

“He was a great fighter, but unfortunately for him he came through at a tough time when there were exceptional fighters around like Lennox Lewis, Frank Bruno and Mike Tyson. His fight against Lennox Lewis in 1991 was brutal.
“Neither man wanted to lose, but they had a lot of respect for each other. Gary had a colourful life. He enjoyed his money and he had a few setbacks after boxing, but you never heard him complaining.”

The driver of the Vauxhall van involved in the accident was taken to a police station for questioning. He has since been released on bail.

A post-mortem examination  on Mason will be held at St Helier Hospital mortuary and an inquest will be opened at Croydon Coroner’s Court.

A police spokesman said: “Officers were alerted at about 6.15am yesterday to a van in collision with a bicycle on Sandy Lane South, near the junction with Woodcote Road, Wallington.

“The cyclist, aged 48 years, was pronounced dead at the scene.”

Mason had retired from boxing and gone on to work at various times as a pundit for Sky – a job from which he was fired for using the F-word – and as a rugby league player with the London Broncos.