The rumors are actually true — Nigel Benn is coming back to boxing.
In a press conference on Thursday, the 55-year-old former WBC super-middleweight champion announced that he’s going to fight fellow former champion Sakio Bika (34-7-3, 22 KOs) on November 23rd in Birmingham, United Kingdom. When the 40-year-old Bika made his pro boxing debut in 2000, Benn had been retired for four years.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Benn said. (via Associated Press)
”This fight is all about me,” he said. “It wasn’t financial. It was always about closure that I wanted that I never had.”
Benn (42-5-1, 35 KOs) was best known for his rivalry with Chris Eubank Sr, losing by KO the first time and then battling to a draw in their rematch. He notably beat Iran Barkley, Thulani Malinga, Nicky Piper, and stopped Gerald McClellan in an ultimately tragic bout that rendered McClellan deaf, blind, and wheelchair bound. Benn retired after an injury TKO defeat to Steve Collins, followed by retiring on his stool in the rematch. The Englishman has been open about his history of drug abuse, depression, suicidal thoughts, and the lasting impact the death of his brother had on his life.
Bika has challenged for world titles multiple times over, and actually won the 168 lbs belt against Marco Antonio Periban in 2013. He lost his title to Anthony Dirrell in 2014, and while he is on a two-fight win streak, he’s been inactive since 2017. While never known as a hard puncher, Bika has shown an exemplary chin, having never been knocked out in any of his defeats.
“I feel the time is right now. People may say, ‘You’re 55.’ It’s nothing to do with age,” Benn said. “I’m fitter now than when I was world champion. It’s not the ‘Dark Destroyer’ because everything synonymous with that name is not who I am. Now it’s Nigel ‘Benjamin Button’ Benn — the older I get, the fitter I am and I 100% mean that. I am so fit.”
The British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) will license Benn to compete, as opposed to the British Boxing Board of Control. Professor Michael Graham, the chief medical officer for BIBA, deems Benn to be in great shape for someone his age.
“The tests that we have done on Nigel Benn to date indicate that his physiological age is at least 15 years younger than his chronological age,” Professor Michael Graham said. “That’s scientific blood tests, MRI scans, cognitive function, body fat, etc.
“If you look at some of the other boxers who have been sanctioned by other sanctioning boards and provided licenses, Nigel’s certainly as fit, if not fitter, than most of them. Certainly the fittest 55-year-old boxer on the planet.”
Oh yeah, if you want to watch Benn vs. Bika and you aren’t able to attend in-person, this bout will be broadcast on Epicentre TV online PPV at a cost of £14.95. Yeah, this is actually pay-per-view, and only five pounds cheaper than actual big boxing matches on UK PPV.