Nigel Benn has hit out at those criticising his professional comeback at the age of 55, saying he’s fitter now than when he was World Champion.
He will make his return on November 23, after 23 years out of the ring, against 40-year-old Sakio Bika.
The fight will go ahead despite Benn being refused a licence from the British Boxing Board of Control, instead it will be sanctioned by the British and Irish Boxing Authority.
Talking about his comeback Benn insisted it wasn’t about money but closure. And he said he no longer wants to be known as the Dark Destroyer, saying he’s now Nigel ‘Benjamin Button’ Benn, a reference to the movie character who gets younger, rather than older over the years.
He told a press conference attended by The Sportsman: "It’s been a long time coming, I have been on a journey, this fight is all about me, it was not financial, I wanted closure that I never had.
"I don’t know how I did it, I look at fights and don’t know how I did it. I suffered with depression, there wasn’t one fight I didn’t suffer with. I don’t think I was even at my best, I don’t know how I got that far to to be inducted into the Hall of Fame.
“I look back and wonder how I got through some fights. I was in a dark place for so many years, there was no joy.
“Because there was always something attached, great fight with Gerald McClellan, yeah but this girl, Michael Watson, yeah this drug, so everything was attached to something, there was no joy.
“I always had a problem, the only time I actually had peace was when I was away training, that was the only time I had peace.
“All through my career I had suicidal thoughts I didn’t want to be where I was, I just want you to understand what I was going through.”
Benn told how a religious conversion changed his life and led him back to the ring.
He added: “In about 2008 I had an encounter with Jesus, that’s when my life changed, truly changed. As soon as I had that encounter, no spliffing, no ecstasy, no women, absolutely nothing.
“But I always carried on training, like a warrior, I always trained, I never stopped training. I started doing a lot of Tour de France riding, doing a lot of altitude with my mask on. And I just began to think wow, I’m going to fight again.
“I feel the time is right now, people might say you’re fifty-five, but it’s nothing to do with age, I’m more fit 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 one hundred per cent mean that, I am so fit.”