Chris Eubank Sr may have saved boxer Nick Blackwell from even more serious injury than the bruising to the brain that left him in an induced coma following his bout with Chris Eubank Jr. Footage has emerged of Eubank Sr climbing into the ring mid-bout and pleading with his son to aim for the body, not the head, to spare Blackwell further punishment. The actions of the former world champion – loved and loathed in equal measure in the world of boxing – have been widely praised.

Eubank Sr, perhaps mindful of his own experience when opponent Michael Watson was left brain-damaged following their bout at White Hart Lane in 1991, appeared to notice early on that Blackwell, from Trowbridge, was in difficulty. Having already banged his fists on the canvas, after the eighth round he jumped in the ring and told Eubank Jr: "If he doesn't stop it and we keep beating him like this, one, he is getting hurt, and 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. You're not going to take him out to the face, you're going to take him out to the body."

The referee at the bout has come in for widespread criticism for allowing the fight to continue to the tenth round before declaring Eubank the winner and British middleweight champion. However Robert Smith, general secretary of the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBC) defended referee Victor Loughlin, telling Radio 5 Live: "Every boxer who gets into a ring know the risks. We have everything in place as best we can. But we're never going to make it 100% safe."

On Twitter the Brighton-based Eubank Jr praised Blackwell for being a true fighter. "Unfortunately Nick is now in an induced coma... my thoughts & prayers go out to his family & friends. He's a true fighter & I whole heartedly believe he will pull through. Appreciate everyone that came out to support the fight."

Boxer Michael Watson was in a coma for 40 days following his defeat at the hands of Eubank Sr, and remains disabled. In 2003 he completed the London Marathon, taking an hour to complete each mile, and in 2004 was awarded an MBE for his services to disabled sport.