LONDON (AP) — Chris Eubank Sr. said he instructed his son to stop targeting the face of Nick Blackwell to “protect” the stricken boxer from a heavier beating in a British middleweight title fight.
Blackwell is in an induced coma in hospital after suffering bleeding to the brain, having collapsed soon after the end of Saturday’s fight against Chris Eubank Jr.
The fight was stopped in the 10th round, shortly after Eubank Sr. entered the ring to tell his son to no longer “take him out to the face.”
“Even in sparring, I tell Junior to stay away from the head because his punching is fast, powerful and dangerous,” Eubank Sr. said Tuesday. “So most certainly, I was saying this to protect the fighter (Blackwell).”
Speaking for the first time since the fight, Eubank Sr. said he was influenced by memories of his 1991 fight against Michael Watson, which ended with Watson suffering a near-fatal brain injury. Watson needed six operations to remove the blood clot that had formed on his brain, leaving him partially paralyzed.
Eubank Jr. said he “stepped back and lowered the tempo” after receiving the instructions from his father.
“I thought, ‘OK, my father’s telling me go to the body, stay away from the head,'” Eubank Jr. said. “Obviously he’s hurt, he’s in bad shape and I’m that far in front, so let me give the referee an opportunity to really look at him properly.
“So I backed off and at that point the referee kind of looked at him, took him over to one side to the doctor and the doctor cut it off. So it was the right decision.”