As always with a major incident in boxing, a blame game and questioning of events inevitably follows.
Nick Blackwell, a 25 year-old fighter with the heart of a lion, plus an infinite amount of guts, is now fighting to recover from taking a brutal beating at the hands of a superior boxer in Chris Eubank Jr.
Social media’s involvement in fans’ interaction has increased the focus when something goes wrong in the sport, although some of the comments and finger-pointing would be best left unsaid.
Attempting to blame anyone for what transpired at the SSE Arena, leaving Blackwell in a coma, is entirely unnecessary in the cold light of day, so the top queries surrounding the events have been pinpointed below.
Firstly, ‘Should Eubank and Blackwell have been in the ring together at all?’ – Well, Eubank wanted to fight for the British title and was named number one contender to Blackwell’s crown by the British Board, deciding down to the fighters/teams involved – both of whom were confident of victory.
Granted, Eubank is levels above, but Blackwell showed against John Ryder that he has the capabilities to move higher than the British level potentially, and pre-fight predictions were split between the pair leading up to Saturday night.
Number two, ‘Should Blackwell’s trainer Gary Lockett and the referee monitored the situation after the first few rounds?’
Blackwell was punching back throughout the first four or five rounds, not indicate that anything would have been developing for later in the fight. Lockett was encouraging Blackwell to wait until the final few rounds when Eubank would tire. However, the truth is the 25 year-old was spent himself after six rounds of taking too many headshots – predominantly the sickening uppercut.
Lockett is completely free of any liability, though, as the gameplan from the start was always to try and get to Eubank late, and nobody can foresee what punishment would have to be taken to get there. The Welsh trainer knows his fighter well and is aware that he would never want to quit willingly due to his immense pride at wearing the British strap.
Referee Victor Loughlin maybe could have called the physician over after round six as Eubank was up 60-54 by that time, and it would have taken a knockout for Blackwell to stand a chance of having his arm raised.
But again, there can be no blame labeled at Loughlin as he too is conscious of the steel balls possessed by Blackwell, a competent pugilist who has a fierce reputation of being tough as nails. Plus, add the fact that Blackwell was catching Eubank with the odd flush shot into the bargain, and there could have been no predicting what was going on deep inside the Lonsdale Belt holder.
My main argument, if any, would be down to the state of Blackwell’s appearance as his nose was spread across his face from the fourth round and only got worse with every blow. The eye that ultimately ended the encounter didn’t emerge prominently until the eighth and ninth sessions. Therefore it wasn’t an issue at that time. It’s not standard practice for any official to stop an ongoing encounter on a broken nose anyway, so again the fight had to be allowed to continue naturally.
By the seventh round, alarm bells were ringing for me, and the fight was becoming difficult to watch as Eubank slammed in uppercut after uppercut doing much more damage to Blackwell’s already bloodied face.
Even Eubank and his father, Senior, were willing the fight to be stopped, but how can you stop a fighter who wants to go on and seems to have all his faculties intact? – It’s a callous call.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing if you could go back, use a Delorean, and actually change what happened, but there is not one single person to lay the blame with. Everyone needs to focus their positive energy on Blackwell’s recovery.
It’s horrible to think Eubank Jr could have to go through what his father did when Michael Watson was badly injured after their contest in 1991, and we can only hope that Nick Blackwell comes out of this fight the way he went in.
Everyone at WBN would like to send our thoughts to Nick Blackwell and his family at this time in the desire for the Trowbridge man to make a full and speedy recovery.
The views expressed in this article are that of the Editor, Phil Jay. WBN celebrated its 10th Anniversary on August 1st, 2020, and is the top-visited independent boxing news website in the world.
Phil Jay is an Auxiliary member of the Boxing Writers Association of America. Follow on Twitter @PhilDJay