Wed, Mar 30, 2016 - Page 20 News List

Blackwell injury stirs Watson memories


Nick Blackwell is “not deteriorating” while in an induced coma following his British middleweight title defeat by Chris Eubank Jr, trainer Gary Lockett said.

The BBC also quoted Lockett as saying on Monday that the 25-year-old had been “heavily sedated,” but could be brought round yesterday.

Saturday saw Eubank Jr win the British middleweight title from Blackwell at London’s Wembley Arena when the referee stopped the contest in the 10th round after the ringside doctor ruled a closed left eye meant the defending champion could not continue.

During the bout Chris Eubank Sr, the father of the new champion, told his son to stop hitting to the head of his opponent, although it was not clear if this was for tactical reasons or to spare Blackwell more severe punishment.

His comments had a special resonance as Eubank Sr’s 1991 World Boxing Organization super-middleweight title stoppage-win over Michael Watson in London ended with his beaten opponent needing major surgery.

“I went down memory lane in many senses,” Watson wrote in Monday’s Daily Telegraph.

“It was a real sense of deja vu as the story unfolded,” added the 51-year-old, who spent 40 days in a coma and had six brain operations, leaving him with irreparable brain damage and partially paralyzed.

Ringside television coverage by broadcaster Channel 5 showed Eubank Sr telling his son at the end of the eighth round: “If the referee doesn’t stop it then I don’t know what to tell you, but I will tell you this, if he doesn’t stop it and we keep beating him like this, he is getting hurt and if it goes to a decision why didn’t the referee stop the fight, I don’t get why, so maybe you shouldn’t leave it to the referee.”

“Now you’re not going to take him out to the face, you’re going to take him out to the body,” he said.

Watson’s case sparked major changes in the provision of ringside medical cover.

Peter Hamlyn, the neurosurgeon who operated on Watson, said the medical support had done its job on Saturday, but added it was “insane” that referee Victor Loughlin had not halted the contest earlier.

“The fight was not stopped when it should have been,” Hamlyn told the Daily Telegraph. “It was clearly a one-sided fight by the seventh or eighth round and it should have been stopped. He took too many uppercuts and he suffered a blitz. It seemed insane for it to go on, because only one man was going to win the fight.”

However, British Boxing Board general secretary Robert Smith told the BBC: “I’ve spoken to the referee, Victor Loughlin, I’ve spoken to Gary Lockett. I’m satisfied with their decisions on the evening. It’s just the nature of the sport and we wish Nick well.”

Watson tried to console Eubank Jr by saying: “Young Chris need not blame himself for what has happened... It was an accident. Just as it was when I fought Eubank [Sr] all those years ago. I have forgiven Chris [Sr] for what happened and I know he feels that in his heart.”

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