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Published: 12:36 | 28/3/16

Eubank and Watson critical of referee

Nick Blackwell remains in coma after brutal fight

Michael Watson and Chris Eubank Sr have both criticised the referee's handling of Saturday's fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Nick Blackwell which has left the latter in an induced coma.

The ringside doctor eventually stopped the contest in the 10th round after informing referee Victor Loughlin that Blackwell was unable to see out of his left eye.

Many thought the brutal nature of the fight meant Loughlin should have stopped it earlier with Blackwell taking a lot of punishment.

The fighter was later taken out of the ring on a stretcher and put in an induced coma in an effort to bring the swelling down and it brought back memories of Eubank Sr's knockout of Watson in 1991 which left the latter with permanent brain damage.

"I went down memory lane in many senses," Watson wrote in The Telegraph. "It was strange watching Chris in the corner with his son, and I have seen most of young Chris' fights.

"Chris and Nick were involved in a very tough fight, and it was a very sad thing to see Nick hurt at the end and then to hear what has happened to him after the fight. It was a real sense of deja vu as the story unfolded.

"I obviously wish Nick and his family love and prayers as he is cared for in hospital.

"Young Chris need not blame himself for what has happened. It was not his intention to bring harm to his opponent, as strange as that sounds.

"It was an accident. Just as it was when I fought Eubank all those years ago. I have forgiven Chris (Sr) for what happened and I know he feels that in his heart."

Footage emerged on Sunday which showed Eubank Sr telling his son after round eight to aim for Blackwell's body rather than head to avoid inflicting serious damage with the former believing the fight should have already been stopped.

"If the referee doesn't stop it, then I don't know what to tell you," Eubank Sr said.

"But I will tell you this: if he doesn't stop it and you keep on beating him like this... one, he is getting hurt, two, if it goes to a decision, why hasn't the referee stopped the fight? I don't get why.

"So maybe you shouldn't leave it to the referee. But you are not going to take him out to the face. You are going to take him out to the body. Okay?"

The British Boxing Board of Control meanwhile has backed Loughlin's handling of the fight.

"I've spoken to the referee, Victor Loughlin, I've spoken to Gary Lockett (Blackwell's coach)," general secretary Robert Smith told the BBC.

"We had discussions with regard to how the fight went and I'm satisfied with their decisions on the evening. It's just the nature of the sport and we wish Nick well."

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