Team Eubank responds to Nick Blackwell’s allegations
On Monday, Nick Blackwell appeared on Good Morning Britain in the UK to criticize both former opponent Chris Eubank Jr. and trainer Chris Eubank Sr. for their post-fight conduct following the March middleweight battle which almost cost him his life.
Among the allegations were that Eubank Jr. had partied following his near-fatal victory and that Eubank Sr. lied about corner advice he gave to his son between rounds in order to portray himself as a hero.
Today, both father and son responded on the very same breakfast television show.
“I was shocked when I heard the things he’d been saying because we’d had a talk on social media and he’d said that everything’s OK and there was no hard feelings,” said Eubank Jr. when interviewed by co-host Piers Morgan.
“But the truth is I’ve ended this guy’s career. I’ve stopped him from making a living. Yesterday, I heard for the first time that he actually died in the ambulance and had to be revived. Was it intentional? No. Did I want any of this to happen? Of course not but I guess I can understand where the anger and dislike for me comes from.”
Prior to his television appearance, Blackwell informed a British tabloid newspaper that Eubank Jr. celebrated his 10th-round stoppage victory, while Blackwell lay fighting for his life in a medically-induced coma. Eubank Jr. denied that allegation and informed Morgan that he had, in fact, “postponed a trip to New York” until Blackwell “was OK and awake.”
Another point raised was Eubank Senior’s now notorious piece of corner advice, prior to the start of the eighth round. The former two-division world champion can be heard asking his son to aim shots at Blackwell’s body, rather than the head, and later intimated that this was done because he could foresee potential tragedy.
Yesterday, Blackwell stated that this advice was merely “tactical.”
“It was technical but at the same time compassionate,” countered Eubank Sr. “(Blackwell) was never in the fight and I know the power with which Junior strikes. He was throwing between 120 and 130 punches a round and his engine is ridiculous.
“I actually said to (Chris Jr.) in a round (interval) that wasn’t shown (on television), to stay away from his head, which I’m always telling him in sparring anyway.”
Blackwell, who was unable to attend the live studio interview, remains incensed that Eubank Sr. was portrayed by the media as having saved his life and forwarded a response to GMTV, which was read out by studio co-host Susanna Reid.
“Chris Sr., you’ve taken the credit with both hands for saving my life by telling people that you told your son to hit me to the body and not the head,” read the statement.
“If you were both so concerned about my well-being then how come Junior threw relentless head shots in that (next) round. And how come you told Junior (before) the start of the 10th-round that you didn’t want this fight to go the distance, and that you wanted Junior to take me out. This is a major contradiction and shows that you are lying.”
Eubank Jr. interjected and offered his own opinion on the corner speech, referencing his father’s near-fatal 1991 bout with Michael Watson, after which Watson required life-saving surgery.
“My father knows from past experience what can happen to fighters when they take that type of punishment,” he said. “If there was no compassion then he would have said, ‘Keep doing what you’re doing, go out there and destroy him.’ He didn’t say that; he saw the effects (the punches) were having on Nick; he saw his state and (told me) there’s no need to keep hitting him to the head, so go to the body.”
It’s unlikely that both sides will ever agree on what really went on in the corner that night but Eubank Jr. is still intent on mending bridges. Toward the end of the interview, the 26-year-old brandished the Lonsdale belt and stated that he would like to return the cherished item to its former owner.
“I have something for him and that something is my British title belt,” said Eubank Jr. “I felt we had a great fight and that he handled himself amazingly. His career is over now, so, as a gesture, I was going to come to the hospital and present him with the belt.
“I still am (prepared to do that). The guy is a true warrior, regardless of what’s been said. The only thing that’s important is that he’s OK and that he can live a normal life with no restrictions.”
Whether Blackwell accepts this gesture of goodwill remains to be seen. It should be pointed out, however, that Eubank Jr. must defend the Lonsdale belt three times before he is allowed to retain it as his property.
This reporter would also like to point out that Piers Morgan stated more than once during today’s interview that referee Victor Loughlin should have stopped the Blackwell-Eubank Jr. bout sooner and that “most people” felt that way. There is no evidence to suggest that “most people” felt that way while the fight was in progress and Loughlin, a fine official, has had unwavering support from fans, peers, doctors and fighters since its conclusion.
Tom Gray is a member of the British Boxing Writers’ Association and has contributed to various publications. Follow him on Twitter @Tom_Gray_Boxing.