Following the terrible events from Saturday's fight between Chris Eubank Jr and Nick Blackwell, there's a lot of discussion out there about the inherent risks of boxing, and more pointedly, about whether or not referee Victor Loughlin should have stopped the fight sooner, or whether or not Blackwell's corner should have pulled their man out of the fight and "saved him from himself."
Here's video of Chris Eubank Sr, himself a former world champion fighter, advising his son that the fight was getting dangerous, and asking him to target Blackwell's body:
What Eubank Sr said:
"If the referee doesn't stop it, then I don't know what to tell you, but I will tell you this: one, if he doesn't stop it and we keep on beating him like this he is getting hurt. Two, if it goes to a decision, why didn't the referee stop the fight? I don't get why. So maybe you shouldn't leave it to the referee. So you're not going to take him out to the face -- you're going to take him out to the body. OK?"
Blackwell, 26, was aware and defending himself when the fight was stopped in the 10th round, and composed enough after to exchange words with his opponent. He didn't collapse until several minutes after the fight was stopped, and it was not stopped directly because of a worrying amount of damage, but because Blackwell's left eye had swollen shut, rendering him unable to see. The ringside physician gave referee Loughlin the advice, and the referee stopped the fight there.
Kyle and myself tried to talk about the situation honestly on Monday's podcast, and I'll say again: in my view, Victor Loughlin is not to blame. Nick Blackwell's corner, led by trainer Gary Lockett, who himself is a former fighter and knows the risks and the dangers of the sport as well as the fighters or Eubank Sr, is not to blame. Is the fact that Eubank Sr was obviously worried about the damage being done jarring? Yes, it is.
But watching the fight, there was not a point where I thought, "This is getting obviously dangerous and they need to stop it." Eubank Sr knows a lot more than I do about this, so I'll definitely defer to his wisdom here. I'm not intending to make an argument against what he was telling his son, or against the concern he had. He obviously saw something, and there obviously was, indeed, a problem. But it's a brutal reality of boxing, and Blackwell was doing everything he needed to do for the fight to keep going. He was defending himself, he was fighting back, he never appeared clearly hurt. Officials can only judge so much.
If Loughlin had stepped in at some point prior, I wouldn't have argued the stoppage. If Blackwell's corner had said, "Enough's enough, we're stopping this," I wouldn't have argued that, either. Nobody wants to see this happen. But, as sad and as barbaric as it may sound, it's going to happen sometimes. You hope to do as much as possible to prevent it, but ultimately this is a sport where strong men are battering one another in a test of wills, toughness, and fortitude. There's no magic moment where I can clearly see a reason for Victor Loughlin to jump in, or for the corner to wave the towel or stop the fight between rounds.
Sadly, Eubank Sr turned out to be totally correct. If I rewatched the fight again -- which I have no strong desire to, if I'm being honest -- maybe I could see what he saw, something that was very clear in Blackwell's body language. Or maybe not. I have TV views available. Eubank Sr was right there at ringside and could see and hear the fight up close. Of course, so could Loughlin and Blackwell's corner.
What's your take here? Did you think during the fight that there was anything wrong with the referee's performance, or with Blackwell's corner not stopping it sooner? Did you see it as a dangerous (as in, more than normal) situation at some point?