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26 Sep, 2019 14:01

'55-year-old men shouldn't be fighting': Boxing fraternity condemns Nigel Benn ring return which comes 23 YEARS after last fight

Former world champion Nigel Benn's comeback to the ring after 23 years of retirement has been slammed by some of boxing's biggest names after it was confirmed the Brit will face Sakio Bika in his November return.
'55-year-old men shouldn't be fighting': Boxing fraternity condemns Nigel Benn ring return which comes 23 YEARS after last fight

Benn hasn't fought since losing a second successive fight to Ireland's Steve Collins in 1996 but appears certain to end his more than two-decade hiatus from the ring in Birmingham, England, on November 23 where he will face Bika, a fighter 15 years his junior.

The controversial bout has been sanctioned by the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) after the British Boxing Board of Control denied the veteran a license to fight.

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Benn's team have described their fighter as the "fittest 55-year-old on the planet" but these words haven't assuaged the concerns of promoters Franke Warren and Eddie Hearn, both of whom have fiercely criticized the bout. 

"I don't know if he is doing it for financial reasons but, whatever reason, he shouldn’t be doing it," Warren said. "I don’t want him to do it. I have a lot of love for him.

"I promoted the start of his career and he finished his career with me. Fifty-five-year-old men should not be fighting, especially when they’ve been out of the ring for 23 years. I hope he is not doing it for financial reasons. It can't be good for his health."

These sentiments are echoed by Eddie Hearn, who said that such is his respect for Benn that he refuses to criticize Benn but admits that he sees the matchmaking as being particularly tough for the veteran fighter.

"I have too much respect for Nigel Benn to criticise him. He must have his reasons for doing it, I don't believe it is just money," Hearn said.

"Sakio Bika is still a right handful, he is strong, he can punch. He is horrible with his head, he is dirty."

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Benn's promoter, Mark Peters, doesn't share these concerns.

"He has still been training twice a day and he will shadow box anywhere. I wouldn't support Nigel if I didn't believe he was fit to box," he said.

"It's his life and his prerogative to fight. From his point of view, this is closure for him."