If ever a boxing rivalry absolutely cried out for another instalment, an instalment that would hopefully result in closure as far as who the better fighter was, once and for all – it is the quite bitter, it-gripped-the-nation, Nigel Benn Vs. Chris Eubank rivalry that took place over the course of three years.
These two middleweights/super-middleweights went to war twice, in November of 1990, and in October of 1993. Eubank, who had placed himself firmly under the skin of the at the time far more accomplished and well known Benn, scored first blood; Eubank stopping Benn in the ninth round of a great fight; Eubank battling through Benn’s venomous power, his tongue later requiring a number of stitches, so badly had a Benn punch come close to severing it.
Yes, Eubank, an odd, monocle-wearing character who was seemingly ill-placed as a fighter (Eubank almost admitted as much, controversially, as he said that boxing was “a mug’s game”) could fight. Benn knew it now, as did the British public.
But Benn, insisting he had not underestimated his irritating rival, but had instead “overestimated him,” wanted a rematch. So did the entire British nation. It had to happen. Finally, after a whole lot of stuff – Eubank’s tragic return fight with Michael Watson and the post-fight ramifications that really shook up the boxing world being the biggest story by far – the two men who appeared to genuinely hate each other met again.
The Eubank-Benn rematch, dubbed “Judgement Day,” took place before 43,000 fans at Old Trafford in Manchester. Benn, the reigning and defending WBC super-middleweight champion, went to war with Eubank, who held the WBO belt. But it was a far different fight from the first battle the two had, with both men boxing, using patience, and being smart this time around. In fact, aside from a thrilling final round, this rematch could have been described as a pretty dull affair.
The hype was of course massive, as was the controversy surrounding the decision – it was a draw, with both men keeping hold of their respective titles but ultimately proving nothing as far as who was the better man, the better fighter.
And so it would remain……..for 30 years and counting.
Benn and Eubank exited the ring as equals 30 years ago today, and there was, for whatever crazy, never fully explained reason, no third fight! Again, if ever a boxing rivalry cried out, indeed begged for another instalment, it was this one. But no, we got no third fight. Instead, Eubank and Benn, who later settled their differences out of the ring and (sort of) became friends, left it at 1-0-1.
When it comes to who the better, you could say greater fighter of the two was, well…… that’s down to opinion and nothing more. Who would have won that third fight had it happened in 1994 or 1995? We will never know.
Today, we fans may yet get to see Benn Jr and Eubank Jr get it on in what would/will be a fight with almost as much hype and attention attached to it as the hype and attention the two battles their dads gave us back in the day had stirred up.