Chris Eubank told his son to stop hitting the head of an opponent who was later placed in an induced coma, it has emerged.
Saturday saw Chris Eubank Jr win the British middleweight title from Nick Blackwell at London’s Wembley Arena when the referee stopped the contest in the tenth round after the ringside doctor ruled a closed left eye meant the defending champion could not continue.
Eubank senior’s words had a special resonance as back in 1991, his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title stoppage-win over Michael Watson in London ended with his beaten opponent needing major surgery in order to survive life-threatening injuries.
“I went down memory lane in many senses,” Watson wrote in yesterday’s edition of Britain’s Daily Telegraph newspaper.
“Chris and Nick were involved in a very tough fight, and it was a very sad thing to see Nick hurt at the end and then to hear what has happened to him after the fight. It was a real sense of deja vu as the story unfolded.
“I obviously wish Nick and his family love and prayers as he is cared for in hospital.”
Ringside television coverage by broadcaster Channel Five showed Eubank telling Chris junior at the end of the eight 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.”
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 stopped the fight earlier.
“The procedure in medical care was followed carefully and precisely and Mr Blackwell did not suffer hypoxia (oxygen starvation to the brain) and was medically induced into a coma,” Hamlyn told the Telegraph.
“But the fight was not stopped when it should have been. 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.”
Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board, told the BBC he was “satisfied” with Loughlin’s handling of the contest.
“I’ve spoken to the referee, Victor Loughlin, I’ve spoken to Gary Lockett (Blackwell’s coach),” he said.
“I’m satisfied with their decisions on the evening. It’s just the nature of the sport and we wish Nick well.”
Eubank Jr dominated Saturday’s fight and on Sunday he wrote on Twitter: “My thoughts & prayers go out to (Blackwell’s) family & friends. He’s a true fighter & I whole heartedly believe he will pull through.”
Meanwhile Watson tried to console Eubank Jr by saying: “Young Chris need not blame himself for what has happened. It was not his intention to bring harm to his opponent, as strange as that sounds.
“It was an accident. Just as it was when I fought Eubank 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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