Nigel Benn to fight former world champion in comeback fight at the age of 55

The former two-weight beltholder will face Sakio Bika in Birmingham on 23 November.

Nigel Benn during today's press conference to announce his comeback fight.
Nigel Benn during today's press conference to announce his comeback fight.
Image: PA Wire/PA Images

NIGEL BENN WILL fight former super-middleweight world champion Sakio Bika in a comeback fight 23 years he last set foot in the boxing ring as a professional.

Benn, 55, retired following consecutive world-title defeats to Ireland’s Steve Collins in 1996, but will face the 40-year-old Cameroonian — who himself hasn’t fought since 2017 — in Birmingham on 23 November.

Bika [34-7-3, 22KOs] is renowned for his teak toughness having never been stopped in his seven defeats, taking noted punchers Lucian Bute and Adonis Stevenson the distance in both of their primes.

Benn packed a serious whack himself during a career in which he won world titles in two weight classes, notching 35 stoppages from 42 wins. In 48 total fights, ‘The Dark Destroyer’ lost only five of them, including his last three when he was considered to be past his peak.

Nonetheless, a little-known ‘sanctioning body’ by the name of the ‘British and Irish Boxing Authority’ (BIBA) — which was founded as recently as 2016 — have granted Benn a licence to return to the professional ring in the UK. It’s understood that the widely accepted British boxing board, the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC), were against the fight taking place.

“It’s been a long time coming,” said Benn. “I have been on a journey. This fight is all about me. It was not financial. I wanted closure that I never had.

“I had a lot of issues in my life after my brother died in 1972 that I carried through to my adult life.

I started smoking aged eight and took ecstasy and suffered with depression for most of my life. I don’t know how I did it, I look at fights and don’t know how I did it. I was in a dark place for so many years, there was no joy.

“I dealt with the tragedies to Gerald McClellan and Michael Watson. I only had peace when I was away training.

I wrestled with so many suicidal thoughts during most of my fights.

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“In 2008 I had an encounter with Jesus and my life changed,” added the Londoner. “No more spliff, ecstasy or women.

I feel the time is right now. People will say ‘you are 55’ but it has nothing to do with age. I am not the Dark Destroyer, I am Nigel Benjamin Button Benn.

“I have to have closure, I know I will get it with this fight. I could have picked an easy opponent but that is not who I am.

“Age is just a number, I am fitter now than I ever was. I am in good shape and am ready to rock and roll.

“The power is still there, I don’t know if I can still take a shot but we will find out soon when I start sparring.”

Leading British promoters Eddie Hearn and Frank Warren, who seldom agree on anything, have each called for Benn to reconsider his decision to fight again.

Gavan Casey is joined by Andy Dunne and, from Japan, Murray Kinsella ahead of Ireland’s Rugby World Cup opener against Scotland.

Source: The42 Rugby Weekly/SoundCloud

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