CHRIS EUBANK JNR, nursing a small bruise under his right eye, sat alongside his father, Chris Eubank, and addressed the media for the first time since opponent Nick Blackwell was taken to hospital after being beaten on Saturday night. In defeat, the courageous fighter relinquished his British middleweight title, and remains in an induced coma after he suffered a bleed to the brain.
Eubank – who won in the 10th round when the referee stopped the fight after approaching the ringside doctor for advice – confirmed his father told him to target the body of his opponent late in the contest.
“You’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, so to hear somebody say ‘take it back a notch’ it’s tough to adjust to,” Junior said about his father’s instructions, who can be heard between rounds eight and nine advising him to go to the body after failing to force the stoppage with punches to the head. “At the same time I knew I was far ahead on the scorecards – or I know I should have been. At the time it was still do or die, I still had to win the fight, but at the back of my mind I was wondering if this guy [Blackwell] has had enough.
“I think before the fight was stopped, if you watch that round , I did actually stop my onslaught. I thought to myself, ‘Okay, this guy is hurt’ and I took it down a notch. I’m playing, I’ve won the fight, let me put on a little show. I wasn’t throwing as many punches. Then the referee decided to take Nick to the corner to the doctor, and stopped the fight. Looking back on it now, I’m very happy that happened. I’m very happy that the doctor stopped the fight because it didn’t seem like the referee was going to. Any more punishment would have been unnecessary.”
Some have criticised the timing of the stoppage, but Eubank Jnr – who was exceptionally impressive during the contest – confirmed that Blackwell was always trying to fight back.
“Nick was a warrior, he kept coming forward, even smiling at times when I hit him. He still had fight in him. Some people say he was too tough for his own good, but that’s what you have to be as a fighter. You have to have that mentality. I have a lot of respect for him.”
Junior’s father, Chris Eubank, has told Boxing News before that referees should be “mindful” of his son’s prowess. It is a warning he repeated to Blackwell before the fight.
“I’ve been saying how dangerous he is for the last two years,” Senior explained. “But what happened was, he fought Billy Joe Saunders, he gave away the first six rounds, and in giving away the first six rounds, because he wasn’t sure about going the 12-round distance for the first time, he effectively gave the fight to Saunders. So then I had to keep quiet about his strength and punching power. At the last press conference, Nick said to me, ‘You said Billy would be in danger, but he lost the fight’. I told him we will not be giving away rounds again, you can go back and listen to it. Junior is dangerous. We are real. This is not sport to us.”