‘Fighting again is the only way I will find peace’: Nigel Benn reveals reason for ‘one last fight’ despite boxer son Conor begging 55-year-old not to go back in the ring
- The Dark Destroyer last fought professionally 23 years ago, back in 1996
- The 55-year-old will take on 40-year-old Sakio Bika on November 23
- Nigel Benn wants to gain ‘closure’ on his career, which includes two world titles
His boxer son implored him not to come back.
‘It’s great in one way but it’s madness,’ says Conor Benn. ‘Our game is different from his day.
‘He’s fit as hell and he trains like a lunatic in the gym and on the road but he’s not been hit in the face for ages.
Nigel Benn will make a sensational comeback at the age of 55 in a one-off fight to gain ‘closure’
Benn’s boxer son Conor has begged the 55-year-old not to go back in the ring
‘That’s horrible when you’re young and hungry. No-one wants to see their dad punched in the face. And now that he’s at peace with his life he doesn’t have the old spite.
‘I begged him not to do this but it’s something he feels he has to get out out his system.’
The question is why? The answer from the man himself is complex. It’s not the money. It’s not the siren call to fame or the lure of the spotlight.
It’s not that unscratchable itch for glory or the thrill of it all. Not even the boredom.
Nigel Benn is coming out of the record books for ‘one last fight,’ age 55, for something which was not a buzz word when he retired from the ring 23 years ago.
Benn held two world championship titles in his career and previously retired in 1996
‘Closure,’ said the Dark Destroyer as he announced his November 23 fight with Sakio Bika, another former – albeit 15 years younger – world champion.
‘Closure,’ he repeated, ‘Closure I can get now I’m free at last from all the issues which kept me in a dark place through my career.
‘Finally, a fight out from under the cloud of depression which never let me box at my best even in my biggest fights.’
More of the soul bearing was to come.
First, he dismissed the fears for his health which his son is not alone in harbouring.
The British Boxing Board of Control refused to sanction the fight but the British and Irish Boxing Authority had no such qualms after running brain scans and physiological tests on someone they describe as the fittest 55-year-old on the planet.
‘I do feel fitter than I’ve ever been and I’ve got even more power,’ says this fighting man who punched hard enough in his prime to send the feared Gerald McClellan to a London hospital with brain injuries from which the American has never recovered.
‘That was my only real war,’ he declares, no doubt to Chris Eubank’s chagrin. ‘I’m not punch drunk. Gerald has all my sympathy but I can’t go into the ring worrying that the same thing could happen to me. I’ll be fighting to win, like always.’
He will be fghting in 10 ounce gloves instead of the 12 ounces customary for the pros ‘as an additional safety precaution’. Boxing ten rounds ‘although I feel I could go the championship 12 easy’. Fighting at light-heavyweight to spare himself and Bika the strain of draining down to the super-middleweight limit at which they won their last world titles.
Benn won the WBC super-middleweight title in 1992 after defeating Juan Carlos Gimenez
Benn had looked at boxing his old arch-rival Eubank or his last opponent Steve Collins ‘but you know how difficult Chris can be and like Steve he was only really interested in the money.’
Which brings us back to ‘closure. ‘
Benn says: ‘I’d been troubled by issues since my brother I loved was murdered by racists when I was eight.
‘That started me smoking and I didn’t stop until I was in my 40s. I started sniffing. I cheated on my wife for years. Had children with different mothers. So when I lost to Steve (Collins) the woman who loved me was talking of divorcing me so I wasn’t focused.
‘It seemed there was always something. Every fight of my life…..until now. ‘ Benn moved to Australia and found God: ‘I had a meeting with Jesus. Changed my life. No more smoking. No more sniffing. No more other women.
‘Happy. In love with my wife. Working for our church. Now I just need this one fight to give me what we all really want. Peace.’
Benn v Bika is at Birmingham’s Resorts World Arena on November 23 and will be televised by Epicentre.tv/Nigel-Benn at £14.95.