Nigel Benn will still make a return to the ring at the age of 55, despite being denied a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control.
The Ilford-born fighter, ranked by BoxRec as the fourth-best British super-middleweight boxer of all-time, will now fight under the British and Irish Boxing Authority instead.
‘The Dark Destroyer,’ an immensely popular figure in his heyday and former two-weight World Champion, is expected to formally announce his return to the sport at a press conference scheduled for Thursday, 23 years on from his last professional fight.
Cameroonian-Australian Sakio Bika is expected to be in the opposite corner when Benn does return. Bika is himself a former super-middleweight World Champion, and fans of the classic boxing reality TV series ‘The Contender’ may remember the 40-year-old as the winner of its third season.
The BBBoC’s general secretary Robert Smith told the Daily Telegraph: “We were approached by Nigel Benn a few months ago inquiring whether we would grant him a licence, but he was told that we would not consider it, given his age and how long he has been away from the sport.
“We will not be licensing this event, it will not be under our jurisdiction. That has not stopped Nigel being a guest at our annual awards dinner on Friday night, as he is a treasured member of the boxing community.”
Since his last fight in 1996, a stoppage loss to the great Steve Collins, he’s seen two of his sons, Conor and Harley, turn professional themselves.
Conor, who turned professional in 2016 and has a record of 15-0 at welterweight, told World Boxing News last month:
“It’s guaranteed he’s definitely fighting again. One hundred million per cent, contracts have been signed.
“He’s been training since he retired but for the past two years, he’s training like an absolute nutter.
“Since I made my debut at the O2 four years ago, I think that’s when the feelings, the emotions come back as he was in the ring with me.”
Benn isn’t the first fighter to pursue a different sanctioning body after being rejected by the BBBoC. Heavyweights David Haye and Dereck Chisora both had their British Boxing Licences revoked following their infamous brawl in Munich following the latter’s defeat to Vitali Klitschko.
The two fighters instead agreed a licence deal with the Luxembourg Boxing Association - a move that was seen as a direct attempt to undermine the BBBoC as it meant that the fight could still take place in Britain even if the boxers were facing disciplinary action.
And Benn isn’t the only former-World Champion itching to get back in the ring.
Oliver McCall, who famously handed Lennox Lewis his first defeat in 1994, returned to the ring in 2018 after a four-year hiatus and despite fighting just twice against unheralded opposition, claims he wants to face Tyson Fury and Ruiz Jr.
Speaking to BBC Sport, the 54-year-old said he believes ‘lineal’ champion Fury to be the best heavyweight in the world today, but added: “I know I will stop Tyson with body shots which will make his liver quiver and his whole body shiver…”
Ruiz Jr beat McCall’s son, Elijah, in three rounds back in 2012 and now the elder McCall wants revenge: “After he knocked out my boy, I jumped in the ring and I looked at Ruiz and I said, ‘Fight me.’
“That was years ago and it never materialised. But this will be a comeback story for me. “I will be the only person in boxing history to avenge the loss of his son and become unified heavyweight champion. People will want to see that.”
Neither of those fights, thankfully, are likely to come to fruition - next up for Ruiz Jr is the tantalising rematch with Anthony Joshua on December 7, whilst Fury is in line to fight Deontay Wilder again, should he get past his rematch with Luis Ortiz in November.