In depth with Nick Blackwell: Former boxer discusses life-altering injuries and long road to recovery in rare interview

13 Sep

Nick Blackwell has endured a tempestuous past 30 months.

Two-and-a-half years ago, in March 2016, he was a young man of 25 in the prime of his life.

Blackwell won the British title with a seventh round stoppage of John Ryder in 2015

But not only that, Blackwell was also a professional boxer – the British middleweight champion, no less – and about to enter the biggest fight of his career to date.

However, that bout, on March 26 against Chris Eubank Jr, would end up drastically changing his future in ways he never could have imagined beforehand.

“It puts shivers down my spine how far I’ve come,” the now-27-year-old told talkSPORT’s Sports Bar with Andy Goldstein and Jason Cundy on Wednesday evening.

Blackwell lost his meeting with Eubank Jr by tenth-round stoppage and it proved to be his last appearance in a boxing ring… publicly at least.

Chris Eubank Jr took Nick Blackwell’s British belt in 2016

When asked if he can remember what happened during the fight, he explained: “Not really, no.

“I can remember I wasn’t throwing as many shots as I should have, but it is what it is.

“I’ve watched it loads of times, I wanted to see it.”

Nick Blackwell’s memory loss exists as a result of what happened immediately after the bout’s conclusion.

The Trowbridge man collapsed, was given oxygen and taken from the ring on a stretcher.

He suffered from a bleed outside of the brain on his skull and was placed into a medically induced coma.

Blackwell celebrating his win over John Ryder

Blackwell later revealed that he’d entered the bout with concerns over his own condition and had even been suffering headaches after a brutal sparring session with George Groves just days prior.

“In sparring Groves hit me with the hardest punch I’ve ever been hit with.

“[It was] five days before,” he confirmed.

When asked why he chose to take on Eubank Jr regardless, Blackwell simply stated: “I love boxing, that’s why I done it.

“I died [in the ambulance]. Luckily the doctors kept me alive.”

One week after the fight, he was brought out of his induced coma, made a fast recovery and was soon back to what he describes as “100 per cent.”

However, the story unfortunately didn’t end there.

As a result of his injuries, Nick Blackwell was forced to retire from boxing.

Having pursued the sport for the majority of the first 25 years of his life, he was now stripped of his perceived purpose.

In November 2016, Blackwell returned to sparring – a decision he admits was a massive mistake, but once again borne out of his love for boxing.

“I loved it, that’s why I wanted to get back into it,” he explained.

“I loved it. I shouldn’t have went in there, but I did.”

He did a full 12 rounds with Hasan Karkardi under the guidance of trainer Liam Wilkins, both of whom were later suspended by the British Boxing Board of Control. Wilkins ultimately lost his licence for good.

The session sent Blackwell into a second coma and changed his life once again, this time with far more dire, long-term consequences.

Blackwell also fought Billy Joe Saunders, losing a unanimous decision in 2012

He “didn’t feel right” after the spar and had a friend take him to hospital.

The journey there is the last thing he remembers.

“Walk, talk, eat, I had to learn everything again.

“I was in a wheelchair for ages. I had to learn how to do anything again.”

While his first recovery was comparatively instantaneous, his second is still ongoing to this day.

Nick Blackwell will face a continuous fight for years to come, though some might argue this is familiar territory for the former champion.

Blackwell recently made an appearance at the weigh-in for Tyson Fury’s comeback fight in June

When asked if he ever heard from Chris Eubank Jr after their fight back in March of 2016, Blackwell revealed: “No, nothing.”

He added that the situation doesn’t upset him, although he would like to meet with his former adversary one day: “To tell him he wasn’t to blame.”

His father was more aggrieved by Eubank’s lack of a response.

“I’m very surprised he didn’t get in touch,” said John Blackwell.

“If the shoe was on the other foot, Nick would have been there.”

“Too right,” his son chimed in.

John was then quizzed regarding the aftercare he and his son had received from the British Boxing Board of Control.

“None,” he sadly revealed. “Nope not at all.”

The Eubanks never met with the Blackwells again following the fight

Unwilling to conclude the discussion on a sour note, Nick Blackwell stated that his recovery is now progressing well.

“[It’s] really good, they come to my house once every two months now.

“They did come once every two weeks, now they don’t really bother.”

The 27-year-old still remarkably remains upbeat about life and has many ambitious plans for his future.

“I want to open up my own gym,” he declared, “I’ve wanted to do that for a while.

“I wanted to open up my own healthy eating place. My mate’s done it and he’s killing it now!”

Blackwell’s elation got the better of him after he stopped John Ryder

Whatever Nick Blackwell goes on to do in life, he will always retain the support of the boxing public.

A warrior both inside and outside of the ring, he continues to fight on in the face of immense adversity.

With a bit of luck, he will ultimately emerge victorious once again.