Following his loss to McCallum, Michael Watson embarked on a three-match winning streak—including the sole defense of his British Commonwealth Middleweight title. A World title contender, he would be matched against his toughest and final challenge in “Simply the Best” Chris Eubank, the WBO World Middleweight champion.
Vs. Eubank: WBO World Middleweight Title
Eubank was entering the match at 27-0 with a number of hard-fought bouts under his belt. Watson would be his third defense of the WBO World Middleweight title. A month prior, Watson had just scored a first round KO and was entering the match 25-2-1.
Taking place in June 1991, the first bout between the two was an incredibly close affair with Chris Eubank squeaking out the win via majority decision. The contest resulted in some believing that Michael Watson actually outboxed Eubanks.
The match was also a blockbuster bout for British boxing due in part because of Eubank’s charisma and skill and Watson being the skilled fighter who could possibly take the title. There was an opportunity to capitalize on the match again and a fight was scheduled for September 1991 for the vacant WBO Super Middleweight belt.
The Second and Final Match
This second bout is much of the same. Both enter the match with their extremely solid technique. The tables were turned on Eubank by the 11th round with Watson doing just that. A knockdown to Eubank was answered with a blow that rocked Watson, resulting in him hitting the back of his head on the ropes.
While he was able to recover and continue on to the final round, the match was stopped when Watson collapsed. Surprisingly, there was no medical staff on hand at the card. By the time off-call doctors finally arrived, Watson hadn’t gotten oxygen for eight minutes. It would be 28 minutes before The Force was given medical treatment at a hospital.
Retirement and Recovery
Suffering from a blood clot, Watson had six operations before it was successfully removed and was in a coma for 40 days. He entered rehab for a year and was in a wheel chair for some years afterwards. During this time, he eventually regained the ability to speak and write as well as some mobility.
He would sue the British Boxing Board of Control for negligence and won £1 million. He would only get £400,000 of the settlement after the BBBoC sold off its London headquarters. April 2003 saw Watson complete the London Marathon with close friends Chris Eubank and the surgeon who handled his brain operations. His participation was to raise money for the Brain and Spine Foundation.
A year later, he was awarded the MBE by Queen Elizabeth II for his role in promoting sports and disabilities. Michael Watson would also serve as a touch bearer for the 2012 Paralympics.
-vs. Chris Eubank: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k-vXIWDyEo0
-vs. Chris Eubank II: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmuSI0FN9_I
-Chris Eubank Discusses Fight Against Watson: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=x6Ezp5Od1FI