Boxing: Hopefully more lessons will be learned

Ask most boxing fans what two of the most memorable fights over the years are and the Benn/McClellan and Eubank/Watson contests will almost certainly feature.

Friday, 1st April 2016, 8:00 am
Updated Friday, 8th June 2018, 1:00 am

Unfortunately, as a ultimate result of both these fights, two of the boxers ended up disabled for life. Now Saturday night’s epic encounter between Chris Eubank Junior and Nick Blackwell might enter British boxing history for similar reasons.

Even with apparent important safety standards within the sport, have we actually learned anything over the years?

Initially I enjoyed watching the contest, but very soon it was apparent that Eubank Junior was very much in control.

I watched it again on Sunday, and even as early as the sixth round, referee Victor Loughlin had every opportunity to stop the contest in favour of Eubank.

Even by a conservative estimate from the first real opportunity to stop the contest, Blackwell had to endure another nine full minutes of punishment, including a large number of damaging uppercuts which the experts felt were the punches inflicting the most damage.

But Loughlin didn’t wave the contest off and I wonder whether, in retrospect, he will regret that for possibly the rest of his career. But we are all only human and ultimately learn from experiences.

Much has also been made of Eubank Senior’s instruction to his boy to target Blackwell’s body rather than his head to avoid further damage.

A number of people within the sport have since expressed an opinion that this was actually more tactical than compassionate.

Personally, having met Michael Watson on a number of occasions and knowing how his plight has affected Chris Eubank throughout his life, I think it’s not only extremely harsh but also something that really shouldn’t have been said at this difficult time.

Still in a medically induced coma, hopefully Nick Blackwell will make a full recovery and some 20 or so years after the previous incidents, more lessons will be learned.

Regardless of live TV coverage, Brighton versus Burnley is a top-of-the-table clash.

With the possibility of the ultimate prize of top-flight football for the victors, therefore the largest Amex crowd of the season, so far, should be a gimme.

Locally, are we real fans or just armchair followers?

Worthing’s premier used car dealer, karaoke singer and all-round Burnley fanatic Berni Cozzi can’t believe promotion-chasing Brighton can’t fill their stadium.

So, if you’re reading this and haven’t got a ticket, it’s not too late. Prove Coz wrong, ring the ticket office and get over to the Amex on Saturday.

As a wide-eyed 12-year-old, my first visit to Wembley Stadium in February, 1977, enabled me to witness Johan Cruyff, the Dutch master, destroy Don Revie’s England in a 2-0 friendly win for the Netherlands.

He remains, quite simply, the greatest player I ever saw play live, and even if Lionel Messi does make it to the Premier League at the Amex (playing against the Albion, rather than for them), I doubt that will change.

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