By Frank Warren
First of all, I would like to say that my thoughts are with Nick Blackwell and I sincerely wish him a full and speedy recovery after he underwent surgery last week following a brain injury.
Naturally, everyone is baffled over why he was back in the ring sparring after the terrible trauma he experienced back in March following his gruelling encounter with Chris Eubank jnr at Wembley.
The fact that he was back trading punches, even in the sanctuary of a gym with head protection on, angers all in boxing, but my ire is not especially directed at Blackwell himself.
Yes, he should have known better and his family have had a harrowing enough time of it this year, but who in their right mind agreed to spar with him or supervise proceedings?
You don’t need to be in this business long to appreciate that fighters simply want to fight. It is ingrained in them, in their blood.
Some need protecting from themselves because they won’t do it. It is why trainers and the team behind them need to be strong and tell them when enough is enough.
I feel for Gary Lockett who told Blackwell in no uncertain terms that he would never again swap punches on his watch and helped and encouraged him in obtaining a trainer’s licence.
Unfortunately, certain others didn’t possess such a duty of care or a shred of common sense. Even if Blackwell’s resolve was weakening, the option of stepping into the ring to engage should not have presented itself. He can’t fight himself, after all.
Nobody, but nobody, should have consented to sparring with him. I so hope there is no lasting damage to Blackwell otherwise someone is going to be left with blood on their hands.
I feel so strongly about this and it is damaging to the sport of boxing.
There are questions that need to be answered. Who went down there with him? Was it a licence holder? Who did he spar with? If it was a boxer he must be a complete imbecile and I also understand it was a cruiserweight, so there was a considerable weight difference.
The original incident involving Nick Blackwell was highly publicised for obvious reasons. Wanting to get back in couldn’t have been for financial purposes, at least not in the short term, because he got his purse and quite a bit of money was raised for him.
It is not about the money, it is about the fact he wants to fight and he needed to be looked after.
As people involved in the sport we are always striving to make the ring a safer place, enabling fighting men to do what they love in the safest possible environment.
Everyone needs to play their part and that includes trainers and cornermen who, on occasions need to call time on fights themselves when there is little or no possibility of their man winning a fight.
It is the job of the referee to step in when a boxer is in no position to defend himself but, when a fighter is still throwing punches, the referee is obliged to let him carry on.
This is where trainers need to step up to the plate and risk the wrath of their man. If a boxer is well behind on the cards say after seven or eight rounds, with little left in the tank to pull off an unlikely upsetting of the odds, why allow him to enter the punishing final furlongs of the race?
Most of these brave athletes will never call it quits themselves, so why allow them to soak up so many more damaging blows just to reach the final bell?
We still await news on the condition of Eduard Gutnecht, who was hospitalised after his points defeat to George Groves a couple of weeks back.
He was so far behind on the cards and, with George being a prolific punch thrower, he could have been spared the suffering of a full 12 rounds.
Boxing is what these guys want to do and that is why they need protecting. It is why the Board of Control is so important and it is also vital that people who are licensed understand the implications of their actions.
In the case Blackwell last week, everybody who was involved should have their licences taken away. No coming back in a couple of months or years – out!
For the good of the game and those who participate in it.
More from Frank tomorrow on his big plans for last weekend’s winners