Nick Blackwell: Swollen eye may have saved boxer's life, says Spencer Oliver

Nick Blackwell
On Monday, Nick Blackwell's family released a statement thanking the public for their support

The swelling over Nick Blackwell's eye that ended his fight with Chris Eubank Jr may have saved his life, according to former boxer Spencer Oliver.

Blackwell is in an induced coma after a small bleed on his brain was found.

Ex-super-bantamweight Oliver suffered life-threatening head injuries in a European title fight in 1998, aged 22.

"The swollen eye effectively brought the doctor in and the doctor stopped the fight. That probably saved his life," Oliver told BBC Wiltshire.

"In round seven, Eubank had a big round and that is when maybe the referee could have jumped in and stopped the fight.

"But there was never any time that Blackwell looked in any serious trouble so the referee let it go on [until the swollen eye]."

Referee Victor Loughlin stopped Saturday's fight in round 10 on the advice of the ringside doctor.

The British Board of Boxing Control said it was satisfied with how Saturday's bout was handled, after suggestions from Eubank Jr's camp and some pundits that the fight should have been stopped sooner.

At the end of the eighth round, Chris Eubank Sr - a former world champion - told his son to aim his shots at Blackwell's body rather than his head.

Spencer Oliver
Spencer Oliver had won all 14 fights in his career before facing Sergei Devakov

Oliver's recovery

Oliver was defending his European title at London's Royal Albert Hall in May 1998 against Ukraine's Sergei Devakov, who knocked him down in the 10th round.

He was given oxygen by paramedics in the ring and, after 15 minutes of treatment, was taken to Charing Cross Hospital, apparently unconscious and wearing a neck brace.

The British fighter later had a blood clot removed from his brain and went on to make a full recovery, but retired from boxing.

'The biggest fight of his life'

As well as wishing 25-year-old Blackwell a full recovery, Oliver also hopes the Wiltshire middleweight will find "direction in life" in the future.

"This is a young kid who is at the top of his career and it's going to all be taken away from him," Oliver said. "He's a kid that is on his way up. It's going to be very difficult for him.

"For me, to be told I could never box again was very, very difficult. Every boxer wakes up, trains, trains again and then goes back to sleep, so there is a massive hole in your life that you have to fill."

Oliver continued: "For Nick, who is currently in the biggest fight of his life there battling away in hospital - and please God, he comes through and makes a full recovery. He will need to then find some direction in life."