Eight All-British Boxing Classics To Whet Your Appetite For Khan Vs Brook

We take a look back at some of the greatest British bust-ups over the years
06:55, 19 Feb 2022

Tonight sees the long-standing rivalry between Amir Khan and Kell Brook finally come to a head. This slice of British beef has been cooking for some time now and there is bound to be fireworks when these two meet at the Manchester Arena. But will it live up to some of the best rivalries on these shores over the years?

Here we take a look at eight of the best all-British boxing matches…

Nigel Benn vs Chris Eubank I

November 18, 1990 - NEC Arena, Birmingham

Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank’s two savage encounters in the 90s remain monumental chapters in British boxing history. The first showdown between this chalk and cheese duo sparked the nation’s interest in boxing when the sport as a whole simply couldn’t. The battle between the self-proclaimed dandy and working-class brawler was simply irresistible and their opening collision in the ring didn’t disappoint.

After a heated build-up to the fight, in a final bid to demoralise the enemy, Benn’s entourage sabotaged Eubank’s ring walk music, cutting out Tina Turner’s ‘Simply The Best’ before he could reach the squared circle. Eubank had the last laugh however, stopping his nemesis in the ninth round. The pair ran it back again three years later, drawing 42,000 to Old Trafford as they fought to a draw. 

Dillian Whyte vs Dereck Chisora

December 10, 2016 - Manchester Arena, Manchester

The mood for this one was set three days before the fight had even begun when Dereck Chisora launched a table at an unsuspecting Dillian Whyte at the press conference. Fortunately he missed, but the intentions were clear and this fight was drenched in some seriously bad blood. The main event more than exceeded expectations too. 

It was a rip-roaring Fight of the Year contender that in truth could have gone either way. It was Whyte who emerged victorious in this bona fide British beef via a razor-thin decision. The two did battle again in 2018, another thrilling spectacle that Whyte won again, this time by an eleventh round KO. 

Lennox Lewis vs Frank Bruno

October 1, 1993 - Cardiff Arms Park, Cardiff

Suitably dubbed “The Battle of Britain,” this clash between two titans of British boxing was the first time two people from the island had contested for the World Heavyweight title. Though not as violent as Chisora vs Whyte, this too had some genuine animosity between its two stars, especially after Bruno’s claims that his opponent “was not British” and that “nobody cares about Lennox Lewis in Britain."

Bruno put on an admirable show against Lewis in the ring, especially in nullifying his opponent’s dangerous right hand early on, but was stopped by an onslaught in the seventh. Fun fact - Joe Calzaghe made his pro debut on the undercard.

LewisBrunojpg

Carl Froch vs George Groves I

November 23, 2013 - Manchester Arena, Manchester

A rivalry that caught the attention of the nation and held it across two glorious middleweight tear-ups between 2013 and 2014. Carl Froch and George Groves’ genuine dislike for one another felt like a throwback to the days of Benn/Eubank. 

Froch was the heavy betting favourite against ‘Saint’ George, but was given a real scare, getting dropped for just the second time in his career in an absolute thriller. The ‘Cobra’ rallied though and stopped Groves in the ninth, although it was viewed controversially by some corners. In the rematch, Froch knocked Groves out in front of 80,000 people at Wembley - had you heard? 

Henry Cooper vs Joe Bugner

March 16, 1971 - Wembley, London

This one was a changing of the guard as one of Britain’s most iconic heavyweights, Sir Henry Cooper, bowed out of boxing after his fight with Joe Bugner. At 21, Bugner was nearly 16 years younger than the man who once gave the great Muhammad Ali a fright at Wembley. 

Despite being the last fight in a career spanning nearly 20 years and 55 fights, Cooper made sure that it was a fascinating encounter from beginning to the end and had the crowd roaring his name in the 14th and 15th rounds. Bugner took a close points win leading to boos from the crowd, but the fight became known as a fitting end to the career of one of Britain’s most beloved boxers.

David Haye vs Tony Bellew I

March 4th, 2017 - 02 Arena, London

Initially met with scepticism, this grudge match became a surprisingly fun bust-up. It was WBC cruiserweight champion Tony Bellew’s debut fight at heavyweight and many expected that David Haye, the former WBA champion, would be too good for the Liverpudlian. They’d all be wrong. In the ring, the action really got started in the sixth round when Haye hurt his ankle, falling down twice, giving ‘the Bomber’ an opportunity to take control of the bout

The night came to an end in the eleventh round when Haye was knocked down and thrown through the ropes by Bellew, leaving Haye’s trainer Shane McGuigan with no choice but to throw in the towel. The pair fought again the following year and to prove the first win wasn’t a fluke, Bellew won again, this time more emphatically, stopping Haye in the fifth. 

Errol Christie vs Mark Kaylor 

November 5, 1985 - Wembley, London

Coming hot on the heels of Thomas Hearns and Marvin Hagler’s three round war in April, Errol Christie and Mark Kaylor’s British classic probably went under the radar in the Fight of the Year stakes in 1985.  

Errol Christie was being dubbed by some as a British Sugar Ray Leonard and since turning pro in 1982, he had put together a record of 20-1, handing out 19 stoppages in the process - seven in the first round. Kaylor meanwhile was a 1980 Olympics quarter-finalist who had picked up the British/Commonwealth titles as a pro, which he subsequently lost to Tony Sibson in 1984. Should he beat the fast-rising Christie though, he would be given the chance to win them back.

Unfortunately, the event was mired in racial tensions with a “black v white” narrative unnecessarily tagged on. Kaylor made a slur towards Christie in a press conference, sparking a pre-fight brawl live on TV that descended into the car park, while Wembley banned pre-fight drinks amidst tensions over crowd control. 

The fight itself was an absolute barnstormer, ending with a Kaylor left hook that sent his arch enemy sprawling to the canvas, unable to beat the count. 

Frankie Gavin vs Sam Eggington

October 22, 2016 - Utilita Arena, Birmingham

The Battle of Brum is a bit of an unheralded modern classic. This ferocious local derby saw Sam Eggington outgun Britain’s first-ever World Amateur champion Frankie Gavin in a thriller at the Utilita Arena, picking up the WBC International strap in the process.

The bout started slow, but caught fire in the third when Eggington caught ‘Funtime’ flush on the jaw, sparking a war for the remainder of the fight that saw the two welterweights go toe-to-toe. Despite taking control after the setback, Gavin was given a standing count in the seventh before ‘Savage’ finished him off in the eighth.

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