Referee was right in not stopping bout, says boxing chief

Nick Blackwell (right) collapsed and is in an induced coma after his loss to Chris Eubank Jr (left) at Wembley Arena on Saturday.
Nick Blackwell (right) collapsed and is in an induced coma after his loss to Chris Eubank Jr (left) at Wembley Arena on Saturday. PHOTO: ACTION IMAGES

LONDON • The head of the British Boxing Board of Control has defended the handling of the middleweight bout that ended with Nick Blackwell's collapse.

Blackwell is in an induced coma after the 10th-round defeat by Chris Eubank Jr at Wembley Arena on Saturday.

Footage has emerged of the victor's father, Chris Eubank Sr, at the end of the eighth round telling his son to target his rival's body instead of his head.

A leading surgeon has also said the bout should have been halted in the seventh round.

Robert Smith, the boxing board's general secretary, said he stood by the decision of Victor Loughlin, the referee, to keep the bout going.

"As a boxing person, I've listened to the Chris Eubank comments," Smith said.

"He's entitled to his opinion but I don't think he was instructing the boy to stop hitting him to the head because he was in danger - he was talking about going to the body because he thought it was a better way of getting the fight over. That's two different things altogether.

"Nick was fighting back and although he was losing, he was still fit and ready to go. We will be getting reports with regard to what went on but from speaking to the referee and Nick's trainer, I'm happy with the decision."

Peter Hamlyn, the neurosurgeon who operated on Michael Watson after his collapse in the 1991 bout with Eubank Sr, said it would have been "entirely legitimate" to have stopped the contest in the seventh round. He said that it was clear by then that Blackwell had taken a punishing series of blows to the head and was not going to win the fight.

"He didn't land more than two significant punches on Eubank, but received dozens in return. It would have been entirely legitimate to stop in round seven," Hamlyn said.

Blackwell's trainer Gary Lockett said that the 25-year-old boxer is "not deteriorating", had been "heavily sedated" and could be brought round by today.

Billy Joe Saunders, the World Boxing Organisation middleweight world champion who accompanied Blackwell into the ring, said he had spoken to the boxer's father and it was "looking good he will be back to us in no time".

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 30, 2016, with the headline 'Referee was right in not stopping bout, says boxing chief'. Print Edition | Subscribe