Sport

Michael Watson wanted Blackwell fight to be stopped

Eubank Jnr delighted his former opponent is out of a coma
Eubank Jnr delighted his former opponent is out of a coma

Michael Watson believes Nick Blackwell's injury was avoidable and feels referees should pay close attention to a fighter's eyes during a bout.

Blackwell collapsed shortly after his British middleweight title defeat to Chris Eubank Jnr at Wembley Arena last week but woke on Saturday and was speaking to friends and family on Sunday.

The fight was stopped in the 10th round after the ringside doctor advised referee Victor Loughlin that Blackwell was unable to see through his left eye. The 25-year-old was found to have suffered a bleed on the skull and spent the following week in an induced coma.

Chris Eubank Snr criticised the referee's handling of his son's fight and Watson - who spent 40 days in an induced coma and had six operations to remove a blood clot from his brain after a 1991 bout against Eubank Snr - was also critical.

He told BBC Radio 5 Live: "I looked into his eyes and saw he was dazed. I was shouting for the referee to intervene.

"Referees should...look at a fighter and work out whether they're hurt or not by looking through their eyes. The referee didn't look into his eyes and intervene."

The British Boxing Board of Control have defended Loughlin's handling of the fight but Watson maintained: "If the fight had been stopped earlier I do truly believe all this could have been prevented."

The former Commonwealth middleweight title holder added: "The unity of people around him will now be mentally beneficial to him.

"He will need his close friends and family to be around at this stage to support him and be his backbone - he needs the help of others around him to help him move on in life."

Blackwell may not return to the ring - but Watson has encouraged him to use him as an example of what can be achieved once a boxing career ends.

The 51-year-old added: "Look at me as an example, life is a precious thing. He's got his senses, he knows exactly what he's doing.

"I've achieved a lot more in my life than when I was in the boxing system. I've met the Queen and so many icons.

"Since the accident I've walked marathons and raised half a million for teenagers with cancer."

The boxing community has responded positively to the news Blackwell had regained consciousness, with plenty taking to social media.

Eubank Jnr himself posted a video on Instagram, saying: "Little message to you Nick, I'd love to come down to the hospital and see you if that's possible, if that's cool with you and your family, I've got something for you, so let me know man."