Two-weight world champion Nigel Benn (42-5-1) has been refused a licence to box by the British Boxing Board of Control (BBBofC) but the 55-year-old is still expected to return to the ring, 23 years after his last professional fight, against former WBC 168-pound champion Sakio Bika (34-7-3).
'The Dark Destroyer' will tackle the 'The Scorpion' in Birmingham on November 23.
40-year-old Bika is 15 years Benn's junior, and is a former WBC and IBO super-middleweight champion, as well as the winner of the third season of The Contender TV series.
The Cameroon-born Australian's last fight was only two years ago in October 2017 as he picked up the WBC International Silver super-middleweight title with a 12-round unanimous decision win over Gerard Ajetovic (21-17-1) in his home city of Sydney. Three months prior to that he picked up the vacant WBC Asian Boxing Council Continental super-middleweight title with a one-sided beatdown of Australian champion Luke Sharp (14-6-3) which ended with a seventh-round stoppage win to Bika. Even more astonishing is that Bika only fought for a world title just four years ago against Adonis Stevenson.
Benn's glittering career came to an end in 1996 after suffering back to back losses to WBO super-middleweight champion Steve Collins. The Australian-based Englishman says he's not returning for money or glory, he simply wants closure.
BBN asked their panel of experts from the boxing world what they thought of this bizarre bout?
Dillian Whyte and Harvey Horn's trainer
"Nigel’s a huge pull because his phenomenal fighting career,but personally I don’t like this comeback,I’ve heard this for years and still not sure it will happen... the timing in your head is very different in the physical in the twilight years of an athlete."
Retired professional boxer
"I feel if Benn hasn't got closure now after such a successful career, then he never will. I’ve got no doubt he would still spark out a lot of people, but fighting competitively at 55 is dangerous. I hope he finds what he’s looking for with this one and then enjoys retirement."
Promoter at VIP Promotions
"Benn was a big hero of mine, but I do not want to see this. It is dangerous for young people, so why, at his age, he wants to do it and why people promote it, is beyond me."
British featherweight champion
"No, I don’t see any good coming from it, although nobody has the right to tell a fighter not to fight, he’s his own man and watching an interview that Connor Benn gave recently, he answered these questions. He isn’t doing it for money or fame (he lives in Australia and seems financially secure) so that’s a good sign.
My view is based on boxing history, nothing good ever seems to come from old greats fighting that one last fight, Ricky Hatton being the most recent example. Father Time waits for no man and at 55 with 20 plus years since his last official boxing match this seems dangerously stupid and beyond anything I’ve ever seen!
Benn wins if he gets it out his system as for the actual fight sadly I’m going to go with history. Bika by KO / stoppage."
"I was a big Nigel Benn fan when I was younger, loved watching him fight but do I want to see a 55 year old Nigel Benn fight? Not particularly.
Bika hasn't fought for two years and at the age of 40 his best days are behind him but he is still 15 years younger than Benn. It just makes no sense at all to me. Will I watch? No."
Unbeaten featherweight prospect
"I think Benn fighting at that age is wrong but once again boxing is very hard to walk away from when you love the sport. Benn isn't fighting for the money, I think he just needs closure and wants to end on a high, I believe it is always dangerous no matter what age you enter the ring in.
For me, Benn knocks Bika out in five rounds."
"I'm never a fan of boxers coming out of retirement. I remember the incredible shape that Ricky Hatton got himself into for his comeback fight against Senchenko and how excited I felt for his return, genuinely believing that he could fight for another world title again. And look how that ended. We all watched the post-fight interview with a lump in our throat as Hatton accepted his career was finished with, it was heartbreaking to watch.
I know that Nigel Benn has kept himself in shape and he could probably take a lot of young boxers around in the gym that are 30 years his junior, but I just don't see what good will come from this fight. He says he wants closure, but what closure do you need from an incredibly successful career that included two world titles? He achieved so much and he bowed out of the sport at the right time. His career was perfect, in my eyes, so I don't see what closure he needs? He doesn't need the money either. Watching his son Connor train has obviously given him itchy knuckles, but I have no interest in watching this fight at all."
"Nigel Benn's wars in the 90's were a big reason why I began to follow boxing. He was powerful, strong, had incredible heart and was must-watch TV.
Now in 2019, at age 55 he is making a comeback.
He looks in great shape and it shows in his fitness videos. His performance in the gym must have encouraged him enough to believe that he can still box.
However, boxing is dangerous. Back when he retired, it was clear that the years of back and forth battles he engaged in had taken their toll on him.
When he finally retired 'The Dark Destroyer' was a shadow of his former self.
What makes him think that he can take on a much younger (although, also past his best) Sakio Bika?
There has to be some accountability and responsibility taken by those that run the sport and protect a fighter against his own natural instincts and thirst for combat. Of course, if he miraculously wins, it is a victory against ageism. However, a devastating loss could have far more damaging consequences than just another mark in his loss column.
Benn should think about the all-day care that his former opponent Gerald McClellan requires, to remind him of the grave danger he puts himself into when he steps between the ropes again.
And I hope one of my all time favourites remains retired, so he can live his life with his health intact. I will be hoping that he decides against a comeback because another rumble in the ring could have disastrous implications whereby a final retirement is forced upon him."
"I find it amazing a man of that age would like to get back in the ring. Sometimes in life you need challenge, so good on him."
Southern Area super-lightweight champion
"I can’t tell a man what he should and shouldn’t do, it’s up to him.
If people think boxing at 55 years of age is dangerous, then what about taking ecstasy pills, which he did while active.
I normally have an opinion if he will win or lose, but I have none, because I have nothing to go on, when did he last box, was it 1996?
I read that he’s stayed fit and healthy, which is great, but that won’t help much when being punched in the head.
I’m also an older fighter and I’m thinking about making a comeback in a few years, so it is what it is."
Welsh Area super-lightweight champion
"I don’t believe he should be getting back into the ring at that age!
However I do understand his reason and if he’s well off, still got his marbles and wants to take the risk at his age then he should be allowed to make his own decisions. As long as the safety procedures ringside are comparable to the BBBofC then it’ll be as good a tournament as most on the circuit."
"It ain’t over till it’s over, I feel like Benn is going to come and shock the world."