NOW that Nick Blackwell has woken from his induced coma, we can look at the fight with Chris Eubank Jnr that caused the injuries in the first place, and the controversies triggered by the horrible ending.
To start with, to all the Ban Boxing Brigades that crawl out of the woodwork at times like this, all I can say is that all sports have a risk element. We don’t expect it to happen to us, but as fighters we are aware that it can, and we enter the sport with our eyes wide open; like all fighters I felt it worth the risk for the rewards both financially and the standing in the community. Recently, two professional cyclists died in races on the continent, and not too long ago a professional rugby league player died whilst playing for Keighley, and rarely a year passes when there are at least two deaths at the Isle of Man TT races. All we can do, in the same way as these sports, is to learn from these tragedies.
What I can’t understand is all the furore surrounding the referee – Victor Loughlin – and the misinterpretation of Chris Eubank Snr and his coaching instructions.
There was a lot of talk as to why the Scottish referee didn’t call off the contest earlier, most stating the seventh round as the perfect time. Well in the seventh round Eubank Jnr jumped on Blackwell early on, and trapped him in the corner, then went to work on him. Perhaps three left hooks hit the target, and maybe half a dozen right hands, but in between that time Nick would fire out a left and right then go back into defence mode, then the same again, at no time did he appear to be in trouble, and I saw no reason to terminate the bout.
Going into the 10th round, I felt that Blackwell was losing a bit of ambition and with the damage to his eyebrow the referee stopped the fight on the doctor’s advice. The only difference there being, I would have made would be to call it off immediately as soon as I saw the eye. Nick was a long way behind in my book although always competitive but he had gone as far as was possible. We don’t know if the referee would have stopped it if the doctor hadn’t ordered it – the fact he called for the doctor rather than just halting suggests he may have let it continue – but ultimately it was stopped at the exact time I would have stopped it. He should not be criticised.
Regarding Eubanks Snr’s advice to not hit Blackwell on the head: It seems to me that Eubank Jnr had spent most of the fight hitting his opponent with his best shots upstairs without securing the stoppage victory, so he felt it was time for a change of tactics – to the body. To me it seemed like sound advice.
I hope Nick continues on his road to recovery, and boxing continues to learn lessons, just like it always has.
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