“YOU’RE speaking to the perfect person, because I’ve been both sides of the fence,” says Gary Lockett on the hardest decision a trainer has to make. “Early on in my career, I pulled a few fighters out and was accused of being too gung-ho with the towel. But then the Nick Blackwell-Chris Eubank fight came around and there wasn’t a problem until Nick fell unconscious, then people wanted to start pointing the finger.”
As Lockett knows, trainers perform a tightrope act when it comes to pulling a fighter out. Do it too early and stand accused of being overprotective, as well as becoming a scapegoat for a loss; of actively turning your own boxer against you. Leave a boxer to soak up punishment and you’re labelled compassionless, the so-called brave corner. Far worse, you could see a fighter suffer serious injury.
In Lockett’s eyes, it’s a decision you’re only qualified to make “if you know the fighter really well”. He was willing to throw in the towel during Gavin Rees’ WBC lightweight title fight with Adrien Broner in 2013, going against his boxer’s wishes when the act of surrender came in the fourth round. “I disagree with my trainer stopping it,” Rees said in the aftermath. “I was always going to get back up. I was going to get keep getting up until I got knocked out cold.”