Boxing: Beaten Blackwell out of coma

LONDON (AFP) - Nick Blackwell has woken from the induced coma he was placed in following a British middleweight title defeat by Chris Eubank Jr, the former champion's promoter said on Monday.

Blackwell, 25, collapsed shortly after his tenth-round stoppage loss to Eubank Jr at London's Wembley Arena on March 26.

He was then taken to London's St Mary's Hospital. Despite a bleed on the skull, doctors decided against an operation and instead placed Blackwell in an induced coma.

They subsequently reduced his medication, with Blackwell waking last Saturday and talking to relatives and friends on Sunday.

"It was the outcome everyone had been hoping and praying for; Nick had won his toughest fight yet," said a statement released by Hennessy Sports.

"On behalf of Nick, his family, and very close friends, we'd like to thank everyone for their continued support and well-wishes. It has been overwhelming at times and has certainly not gone unnoticed.

"Nick Blackwell won the hearts of over three million (television) viewers on March 26 with an astonishing display of all-action bravery and determination.

"In the past week, however, he has humbled millions more. He's a fighter. He's a warrior. He's a true champion and gentleman." During the fight Chris Eubank senior, the father of the new champion, could be heard telling his son to stop hitting Blackwell's head.

"Even in sparring, I tell Junior to stay away from the head because his punching is fast, powerful and dangerous," Eubank, a former middleweight and super-middleweight world champion, later told the BBC.

"So most certainly I was saying this to protect the fighter." His ringside instructions were especially poignant as, 25 years ago, Eubank senior stopped Michael Watson in a world title fight that left his beaten opponent with irreparable brain damage and partially paralysed.