Nigel Benn Vs. Iran Barkley: A Three-Minute Street-Fight Explosion!

By James Slater - 08/18/2023 - Comments

For a fight that lasted just three minutes, the middleweight slugfest that took place on this day 33 years ago between Nigel Benn and Iran Barkley, sure was crammed full of action. In fact, it could be argued that the one-round street fight that was masquerading as a professional boxing match had contained in those 180 seconds as much as three or more rounds worth of action.

Okay, maybe this is an exaggeration, but not by much.

Barkley, the former WBC middleweight champ, was coming off a layoff as well as retinal surgery. Benn was in the rebuilding process following his somewhat humiliating loss to Michael Watson. Neither man could afford another defeat, and as soon as the red-hot, savage action got underway at Ballys in Las Vegas, the former gang member and the former soldier went to war. For a short while.

Benn, who had said before the fight that things would be “very, very explosive,” struck first. Tagging the slow-starting Barkley, Benn almost took his man out in a blur, with Barkley being caught cold. Two rights blasted into Barkley’s head, and Benn went for the unimaginably quick win. Barkley tried to fight back, but another right hand spun him around, and then a left dropped him. Benn was still firing in leather as ref Carlos Padilla tried to get in to administer a count.

Benn was on fire!

But “The Blade,” though not as sharp as he might have been ( a tune-up bout prior to this one would not have been a bad idea) was not done yet. Benn came marching back in, missing with a wild left. But Barkley now had the distance, and his suspected poor eyesight was temporarily out of the game; Barkley could ‘feel’ where Benn was. Pumping out both arms in a manner that looked as though he was punching underwater, Barkley at last found some zip.

A left hook counter smacked into Benn’s suspect chin, and “The Dark Destroyer” was sent backwards across the ring he had owned for around a minute or less. Barkley was now looking for the quick finish. Nobody at ringside was sat down. Barkley dug in as Benn was on the ropes, and the street fight had forced fans to temporarily put down their beer cups.

Benn then roared back. The fresher, less damaged man, with perfect vision to boot, Benn took just a fraction more time than he had done in terms of setting up his shots, and another right whipped into Barkley’s head. Then came a Benn uppercut, and then, after the two had traded rights, came a Benn right-left-right combo that decked Barkley for a second time. And then Benn blasted in another right as Barkley was down.

This was now borderline DQ stuff, but Padilla, who didn’t have a great night, never even warned Benn for his dirty moves. There was more to come. Benn then dropped Barkley with a combination, and a confused Padilla waved his arms slowly. The fight was over. But the arguments were to come. Should Barkley have been given time to recover after Benn had hit him while he was down the second time? For sure.

But this fight, this short and not too sweet but entertaining as hell fight, never seemed to have enough time to fully get going. That said, the amount of action crammed into those three minutes was truly stunning.

Can YOU name a more exciting, thrilling, controversial, constantly watchable one-rounder?

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