Chris Eubank is still haunted by guilt and still struggles to comprehend what happened on the fateful night he fought Michael Watson for the second time in September 1991.
After winning a tight points decision after an enthralling 12-round fight in June 1991, Eubank faced Watson again just three months later at White Hart Lane for the WBO super middleweight title. However, this fight would be remembered for horrifying reasons.
The contest was as ferocious as their first bout, and going into the final round, Watson was ahead on points having knocked Eubank to the floor in the previous round.
What happened to Michael Watson?
Watson looked set to win and pick up his first career title, however, Eubank bounced back, landing a devastating uppercut which knocked the former off his feet, causing him to fall backwards and hit the back of his head against the ropes.
Eubank celebrated his win, unaware that a tragedy was unfolding right before his very eyes.
Watson was in a state of collapse and his injuries led to a blood clot forming on the brain. His injuries looked to be life-threatening. He entered a 40-day coma and there were fears that he would never recover. However, after years of rehabilitation, including six years in a wheelchair, he gradually became more mobile and recovered his speech.
Chris Eubank’s emotional interview
The events of that September night had a profound effect on Eubank and the guilt has never left him.
For the remainder of his boxing career, he tried to avoid knocking opponents out, instead going for points victories. News that Steve Collins was using a hypnotist before their fight in 1995 greatly undermined Eubank, as he feared that he could do real damage to a man who believed he could feel no pain.
A deeply moving video has re-emerged of an emotional Eubank apologising to Watson whilst they were both appearing on Piers Morgan’s Life Stories, with Watson offering forgiveness.
Eubank, breaking down in tears, said: “I can’t tell you how sorry I am,” to which Watson replied: “Let’s move on… we are born warriors, we are real.”
Video: Chris Eubank apologises to Michael Watson on TV
The mutual respect and empathy between the pair is clearly evident.
Eubank almost quit the sport in the aftermath and still feels the guilt now, stating: “It was me that threw the punch.”
He also said that it had a great effect on the rest of his career: “I lost my finishing instinct in the ring – I couldn’t finish fights any more. However, I needed to work and so I carried on and I won most of my fights on decisions.”
However, the responsibility shouldn’t lie with Eubank.
Why wasn’t Michael Watson’s incident prevented?
The tragic incident occurred mainly due to negligence. There were no paramedics at the fight, a British Boxing Board of Control medic plus doctors who happened to be attending as spectators, did what they could to help, but it was too little, too late.
Watson did not receive oxygen for eight minutes and it would be another 20 before he was taken to the nearest hospital.
The incident, thankfully, led to more stringent safety measures being enforced, with proper medical back-up at every fight.
Eubank believes the weight cut his son has had to take is dangerous and has stated: “This is how brain injuries occur.”