Boxing

Nick Blackwell, pictured, was left in a coma after defeat to Chris Eubank Jr.

Chris Eubank Sr and Michael Watson share concerns as Nick Blackwell left in coma

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Chris Eubank Sr criticised the referee's handling of his son's fight with Nick Blackwell while Michael Watson was left with a feeling of "deja vu" as Eubank Jr's opponent remained in an induced coma on Sunday night.

Eubank Jr and Blackwell went toe-to-toe at the Wembley Arena in a brutal British middleweight title bout on Saturday, which was stopped in the 10th round after the ringside doctor advised the referee that Blackwell was unable to see through his left eye. He was later carried out on a stretcher and taken to St Mary's Hospital in London.

It provided a frightening echo of Eubank Sr's 1991 knockout of Watson, who collapsed after the fight, spent 40 days in an induced coma and had six operations to remove a blood clot from his brain.

Watson wrote in the Telegraph: " I went down memory lane in many senses. It was strange watching Chris in the corner with his son, and I have seen most of young Chris' fights.

"Chris and Nick were involved in a very tough fight, and it was a very sad thing to see Nick hurt at the end and then to hear what has happened to him after the fight. It was a real sense of deja vu as the story unfolded.

"I obviously wish Nick and his family love and prayers as he is cared for in hospital."

It emerged on Sunday evening that Eubank Sr had instructed his son at the end of the eighth round to aim his shots at Blackwell's body rather than his head, feeling the fight should already have been stopped.

Broadcaster Channel 5 picked up Eubank saying: "If the referee doesn't stop it, then I don't know what to tell you.

"But I will tell you this: if he doesn't stop it and you keep on beating him like this...one, he is getting hurt, two, if it goes to a decision, why hasn't the referee stopped the fight? I don't get why.

"So maybe you shouldn't leave it to the referee. But you are not going to take him out to the face. You are going to take him out to the body. Okay?"

British Boxing Board of Control general secretary Robert Smith defended referee Victor Loughlin's handling of the fight, telling BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday evening: "I've spoken to the referee, Victor Loughlin, I've spoken to Gary Lockett (Blackwell's coach).

"We had discussions with regard to how the fight went and I'm satisfied with their decisions on the evening. It's just the nature of the sport and we wish Nick well."

Eubank Jr dominated the fight at Wembley Arena and had earlier bloodied Blackwell's nose in rounds three and four, before landing a number of heavy blows in round seven.

He wrote on Twitter on Sunday afternoon: "My thoughts & prayers go out to (Blackwell's) family & friends. He's a true fighter & I whole heartedly believe he will pull through."

Watson continued: "Young Chris need not blame himself for what has happened. It was not his intention to bring harm to his opponent, as strange as that sounds.

"It was an accident. Just as it was when I fought Eubank all those years ago. I have forgiven Chris (Sr) for what happened and I know he feels that in his heart."

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