FORMER WBO middleweight and WBC super-middleweight world titlist Nigel Benn (45-5-1, 35 KOs) had to shoulder plenty of criticism after announcing his decision to fight Sakio Bika on November 23 under the auspices of the BIBA and, somewhat ironically, he has had to call the fight off after picking up a shoulder injury in training yesterday.
In a statement released on his behalf, Benn’s appointed spokesperson was quick to point out that: “Father Time has NOT caught up with him at all, as his preparation and sparring had actually progressed better than expected at this stage of his preparation. Nigel had several anti-inflammatory injections, primarily into one shoulder joint last week, but this treatment has failed in its efforts to reduce the acute pain that is significantly affecting his punching power and full movement on one side.
“He is devastated at this setback. Years of organisation has gone into this event, and many people (aside from himself) will be affected by his inability to fight. This setback will likely mean that he will never get the closure he sought.”
“I hope my fans will respect that I have no say in this decision,” added Benn. “Please accept my apologies for any inconvenience this may cause to my loyal fans who have bought tickets, The British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA) for sanctioning me, undercard fighters, the venue, suppliers and anyone else who is affected by my announcement. God bless you all.”
The majority of boxing fans were dead against any form of comeback for “The Dark Destroyer”, who retired in 1996 following defeats to Thulani Malinga (L SD 12) and a brace of defeats against Steve Collins (L rsf 4 after sustaining an ankle injury), and a sixth-round corner retirement. This injury has ended a lot of toing and froing over whether or not it should have gone ahead, and has underlined the fact that the 55-year-old will not get to make his unlikely comeback.
Tyson Fury (29-0-1, 20 KOs) faces Braun Strowman in Saudi Arabia this Thursday following their completely impromptu shouting match at a Smackdown event in LA earlier this month. Fury picked up severe cuts when beating Otto Wallin by decision on September 14 yet he has once again gone against the grain by going through with his WWE debut.
Promoter Frank Warren believes that the decision represents a risk to Fury’s still-healing double eye injury, which required 47 stitches to seal, and rival promoter Eddie Hearn believes that this latest move is proof that Fury is finished with boxing. Fury, though, has told Declan Taylor of The Independent that he is taking his training for the event as seriously as he takes his boxing training. Indeed, the 31-year-old argued that it is a harder training regime than his traditional boxing one.
“It’s very taxing on the body,” he said. “Very hard work. There’s a lot of impact to the human body which is different to boxing because you don’t really take any impact when you’re boxing, well at least I don’t. The cut [against Wallin] was my first one in 10 years.
“I don’t take any impact in boxing but wrestling you take impact every day getting power-slammed suplexed, everything you can think of. I’ve been getting chucked out of the ring too. It’s all just impact impact impact. It is painful to say the least.
“I don’t get hit when I’m boxing really. I would say there is 100 times more impact than in boxing because I’m actually getting picked up and slammed onto a hard floor. I don’t ever get that in boxing, ever.
“I can honestly tell you that if I spar for 10 or 12 rounds, I might get hit five times. In this you’re getting impacted every day you train. Every time I go to that gym and train for two hours there will be impact, getting smashed onto the floor, the ropes or into a corner.”
He added: “Anyone who says wrestling is easier than boxing is full of shit. They don’t know what they’re talking about.”
Fury is due to make his return to boxing on February 22, but some believe the decision to take a WWE match as well as rumblings about a dabble in the UFC is an indication that he may be looking further afield. However, Fury, insists that it will be Deontay Wilder next, assuming of course that “The Bronze Bomber” secures a victory in his rematch with Luis Ortiz on November 23.
“If he loses we will have to look for a new opponent for February 22,” he said. “Either way, I’ll be boxing on February 22 in Vegas, whether it’s Wilder or not. What happens in other people’s lives or careers is none of my concern but in my life and career, I’ll be boxing February 22. That’s for sure, providing I don’t get run over in the meantime. Whether the cut is ok or not, I will still be fighting February 22 because that’s what I do.”
For his part, Wilder (41-0-1, 40 KOs) insists that he not interested in what Fury does next as he is fully focussed on next month’s meeting with Ortiz. The 34-year-old also told Sun Sport that he does not care what Fury does between now and February as long as he is in fine fettle for the rematch of their draw.
“They’re gonna be in Saudi Arabia for this one, so nah I’m not flying out for that, I’m in camp,” he said. “Yeah, he is doing a little bit of promotion for the rematch, but he’s talking on WWE like the heavyweight champion of the world.
“You ain’t no heavyweight champion of the world. Nobody cares about no Lineal championship — when has anyone gone 12-rounds for a make believe belt. I’m just expressing my opinion, I don’t care what they do. But when the rematch comes, make sure you be there. That’s all that matters to me.”
Instead of using Saturday’s decision majority decision win over Regis Prograis as a launchpad for a US invasion, Scotland’s Josh Taylor (16-0, 12 stoppages) has revealed that he would love nothing more to than to headline closer to home for his first defence. Taylor is eyeing a meeting with WBC world and WBO holder Jose Ramirez to annex the WBA Super World and IBF world light-welterweight titles, but he would prefer it to take place at either Edinburgh Castle or Easter Road.
Speaking to Sky Sports News HQ, the jubilant 28-year-old revealed that: “The fight I want next is to go for all the belts against Jose Ramirez. I want to face that fight and become the first [Scottish] undisputed world champion since the great Ken Buchanan. That would be awesome. That’s a goal of mine but for now it’s time to rest and recharge the batteries because I have had a hard 18 months.”
Most fighters want to break America, and Taylor is no difference yet he argued that he has more than won the right to be given a homecoming fight in front of his fans. “I’d love to go to America and fight,” he added.
“That’s one of the main dreams of almost every other fighter you will speak to. They would love to go to America and see their name in the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, up in bright lights, or in Madison Square Garden. But now I have got the titles I do think I have got a bit of pulling power with where the next fight is going to be. And I would really, really love it to be either in Edinburgh Castle in the middle of the summer or at Easter Road. That would just be brilliant.”