When the story surfaced late last week, telling us how former 160/168 pound champ Nigel Benn was set to return to the ring – at age 55 and after having been inactive for 23 years – it’s likely a number of fans groaned, while others were doubtless skeptical that the ring return would actually happen.
Well, today, in various places – World Boxing News, The Sun, The Mirror – it has been reported how the comeback is for real, and it will see Benn return as a light-heavyweight in Birmingham on November 23rd. The opponent? Nothing has been confirmed as of yet, but the name these publications/web sites have been mentioning is Sakio Bika. Bika, 15 years the younger man at age 40, has worked out in Benn’s gym from time to time and he, like “The Dark Destroyer,” has kept himself fit and in shape. Bika last boxed in October of 2017, beating Geard Ajetovic to win the WBC international silver belt at 168 pounds. Bika is 34-7-3(22) and the Australian who was born in Cameroon has never been stopped.
The fight will either bet scheduled for ten or 12 rounds. If it does turn out to be Bika, Benn has to be commended for not picking a soft touch. Bika is a veteran himself and “The Scorpion” may have seen better days, but after 23 long, long years out of the ring Benn could so easily have handpicked a far, far safer opponent. But should Benn, 42-5-1(35) be coming back at all?
Never before has a pro fighter, world champion or otherwise, returned to the ring after such a long time out (unless you can name one, if so please leave a few lines in the comments section below). Remember when heavyweight legend George Foreman came back after ten years out? Fans and experts said it was nothing but a foolish idea, that at age 38 and after having had a decade of inactivity the whole idea was a very bad one. But here’s Benn at age 55 and not having boxed since way back in 1996 (a loss, his second in a row, to Steve Collins).
The one thing Benn has going for him, something “Big George” never had, is the fact that he has kept himself trim, not having piled on weight that had to be shifted ahead of the comeback. Still, after the tough, even damaging career Benn had (the tragic war with Gerald McClellan left Benn with a shadow on the brain), the odds seem to be against him in a pretty big way.
Above all else, let’s hope Benn doesn’t wind up getting hurt. A press conference to officially announce the November 23rd fight is reportedly set for next week, when Benn returns to the UK from his home in Australia.