Nineteen Years Ago Today - Nigel Benn Scores Great "Away" Win Vs. Doug DeWitt

bennby James Slater - Though it is not one of the most obvious fights that springs to mind whenever fight fans are recalling great wins achieved by a British boxer while doing his stuff on foreign soil - or American soil, to be more precise - Nigel Benn's up-from-the-floor TKO win over the iron-jawed Doug DeWitt was indeed a fine "away" win.

The all-action middleweight's victory took place exactly nineteen years ago today, and leading up to the WBO 160 pound title bout the fans and experts were split right down the middle as to who would win. This coming Saturday, albeit in a much bigger fight and one that most see as a bout that is more of a 60-40 or 70-30-percent winnable one in favour of Manny Pacquiao, another Brit gets the chance to pull off a truly important win in the U.S. Can Ricky Hatton do to "Pac-Man" in Las Vegas what Benn did to DeWitt in Atlantic City?

When the two rival middleweights met on April 29th, 1990, the fight had garnered no way near the attention this Saturday's super-fight has. But the forthcoming battle between "The Cobra" and "The Dark Destroyer" was a pretty big deal all the same. And, to repeat, no-one was in any way sure who would win.

On the one had, challenger Benn had withering power, yet on the other hand champion DeWitt had an anvil for a chin. Also, coming back as he was from his recent, sole pro loss at the hands of Michael Watson, who KO'd Benn in the 6th round the previous summer, the critics said Nigel had no real chin or stamina. Also adding to the questions that served to make the fight such a tough one to pick, was the fact that battle hardened 29-year-old DeWitt was a fighter seen by some as a man who was past his best, perhaps even coming towards the end. The champ from Yonkers would hear none of that, though, and he promised he would defeat the far less experienced 26-year-old as he made the first defence of his new belt.

Early in the fight it looked as though DeWitt would indeed emerge the winner. Putting Benn down with a left hand to the head as both men landed simultaneously, the defending champion saw his challenger on his knees. This knockdown proved to be Doug's only real success in the fight, however. A step behind the hungry Londoner all night, Dewitt really took some hard shots to the head and jaw. Only his famed ability at taking a punch kept Doug in the fight.

His trainer and corner-man Tommy Gallagher telling him to," get the fuck going!" DeWitt tried his best but was marked up and tiring also. There was a strange incident that proved how fatigued DeWitt was, in what turned out to be one of the last rounds of the fight. Just prior to stopping the WBO ruler and becoming Britain's first middleweight king since Alan Minter a decade before, Benn appeared to twist his knee.

Pulling a peculiar face and dropping his hands as he looked down at his knee, Benn could very well have been tagged by DeWitt. However, tired - almost to the point of exhaustion - the champion failed to jump on Benn; he perhaps even thought Nigel was fooling around. In any case, a few minutes later DeWitt was violently smashed to the mat three times in the 8th round and his title was gone via the three knockdown rule. The official time was 44-seconds of the round and referee Randy Neumann enforced the automatic stoppage rule. A well beaten DeWitt uttered no complaints whatsoever, in fact he announced his retirement afterwards (though he was to come back two years later).

Benn, who had hit DeWitt's head with such force he broke a hand in the fight, beamed as he spoke into commentator Reg Gutteridge's microphone after the fight, and the new champ spoke of how much the win meant to him.

Today, Benn is one of the U'K's most popular fighters of the modern era, and it was the win over Doug DeWitt that started an eventual run that would see him engage in an amazing sixteen world title bouts.

Finally retiring in late 1996, as a British boxing legend, Benn's final record reads 42-5-1(35). DeWitt, the first ever WBO middleweight champion, retired with a fine 33-8-5(19) record in December of 1992

Article posted on 29.04.2009

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