For many years, boxing has publicly been under the cosh for the risk it poses to its sportsmen. In the annals of history, it has a notorious reputation for causing potential life threatening injuries.
Chris Eubank Jr's British Middleweight title win on Saturday, was overshadowed by the damage to his opponent, then reigning British Middleweight champion, Nick Blackwell falling into an induced coma, due to bleeding on the brain as a result of the punishment he took in the final rounds of the fight.
As we watched Blackwell's spirited, yet ultimately fateful performance against Eubank Jr, we cannot help but remember his father's rematch against Michael Watson for the WBO Super-Middleweight title in 1991. Watson was on top on points, but Chris Eubank Sr landed a huge uppercut square on Watson's jaw, knocking him out. Watson would later fall into a coma from which he wouldn't come out of for 40 days and was wheelchair bound for 6 years after. Since that night, Watson has made a miraculous recovery, walking the London Marathon in 2003, but nothing could sideline the fact around boxing's image as a dangerous sport with potential devastating consequences for its competitors.
In terms of boxing history, you can recall the tragic deaths of Benny 'Kid' Paret and Davey Moore in 1962, both dying from damage to the brain sustained in their respective title fights. After the Paret match, boxing was momentarily taken off television due to the public complaints it received.
Another devastating example of the unforgiving nature of the sport came in 1980, with Welsh boxer Johnny Owen taking on Mexican Lupe Pintor for the World Bantamweight title in Los Angeles. Owen put up a stern fight against Pintor, but eventually got caught with a hook in the 12th round which knocked him out and ended the fight. Johnny never regained consciousness.
Judging by history it doesn't look good for the sport, and what provides entertainment comes at a price. A boxer when in the ring only has one intention, to win the contest, and by doing that they have to hurt their opponent before their opponent hurts them, they have to defend themselves and the only way of doing that is to stop their opponent. Boxing is like a gladiatorial fight, the atmosphere and crowd akin to the old Roman sport, the crowd cheers on their favourite, baying for blood, baying for a knockout until one eventually succumbs.
Certainly comparisons can be made between all of these fighters, that once the body shuts down, the heart goes on, they remain conscious because it is their will that keeps them fighting, the belief that they can still win it, even when their body is telling them they cannot.
It is then up to the referee to make a decision as to whether the boxer is taking too much punishment. Yet like all referees in sport, a boxing referee can make a mistake or misjudgement and that mistake/misjudgement could cost a boxer his life.
I can only feel for all those involved in the Eubank Jr v Blackwell fight and I have no doubt that the memories would have come back for Eubank Sr that day he knocked out Watson, seeing his son go through similar circumstances. He can identify with what his son must be feeling.
Our only hope as collective spectators is that Blackwell makes a full recovery for the sake of the sport.Suggest a correction