On Saturday, March 26, at Wembley Arena in Wembley, London, United Kingdom, a tragedy occurred. Like most boxing tragedies it occurred in the ring. Like most boxing tragedies it involved the brain.
BBBofC middleweight champion Nick “Bang Bang” Blackwell (19-4-1, 8 KOs), from Trowbridge, Wiltshire, UK, fighting out of the red corner in brown trunks with gold trim, fought Chris Eubank Jr. (22-1, 17 KOs), fighting out of the blue corner in black and silver trunks, the son of a legend who resides in Brighton, Sussex.
Eubank has had a fine career. Except for a split decision loss to Billy Joe Saunders in 2014, he has won all his fights. In February of 2015 Eubank fought Dmitry Chudinov (14-0-2 at the time) for the interim WBA World middleweight title. It was a sweet victory that ended in the final round.
In his last fight, a non-title affair at the O2 Arena, Eubank stopped Gary (Spike) O’Sullivan, the man of steel from Cork, Ireland.
Blackwell, like Eubank, also lost to Billy Joe Saunders. Unlike Eubank, he also lost to Martin Murray and Max Bursak, in 2011 and 2013, respectively. But “Bang Bang” Blackwell had won seven straight since Bursak, and against tough competition, so he was primed for the fight.
There was, however, one small problem. Eubank is the better fighter. Blackwell is the gladiator’s gladiator, the grandmaster of no quit. No doubt about it. He’s a kamikaze pilot in the sweet science. But boxing is ultimately a skill and not a strength sport and the pedigreed kid with the starry future took Nick Blackwell to school.
The first few rounds were give and take. By the middle rounds, Eubank did the giving. Blackwell did the taking. He took it like a man. He began busting up early. He couldn’t cope with Eubank’s speed and boxing IQ.
He couldn’t cope with Eubank
When the referee Victor Loughlin finally stopped at 2:11 of the 10th, Blackwell was a mess. His face smeared with blood, his left eye completely closed, he had absorbed punches like a sponge. It was good that it was stopped. But it felt late.
Nick Blackwell collapsed. He left the ring on a stretcher with an oxygen mask strapped to his face. He was taken to a hospital and placed in an induced coma.
“It is our understanding that Nick has a bleed on the brain (a “cerebral hemorrhage”) and is under observation by hospital staff,” said Robert W. Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Monitoring Committee. “We will just have to wait and see what the hospital says.”
Tyson Fury, Lennox Lewis, Carl Frampton, and many others have expressed concern for Nick Blackwell. The family of the World Boxing Association, through its president Gilberto Jesus Mendoza, wishes to join them.
Blackwell’s family told the BBC he remains “heavily sedated” but is “not deteriorating.”
There has been an outcry, as expected, but the British Board of Boxing Control has cleared the referee, the ringside physician, and Blackwell’s trainer Gary Lockett of any wrongdoing.
Smith told the BBC, “I’ve spoken to the referee, Victor Loughlin, I’ve spoken to Gary Lockett. We had discussions with regard to how the fight went and I’m satisfied with their decisions on the evening.”
Critics, the most vocal is Chris Eubank Sr., are not satisfied. They say the fight should have been stopped sooner.
At the end of round eight, Eubank lamented to his son, “If he doesn’t stop it and we keep beating him like this, one, he is getting hurt, and two, if it goes to a decision—why didn’t the referee stop the fight? I don’t get why. So maybe you shouldn’t leave it to the referee.”
The WBA send its sincere words of encouragement to the family of Nick Blackwell in these difficult times.
This article was penned by the author who is not related to the WBA and the statements, expressions or opinions referenced herein are that of the author alone and not the WBA.