NIGEL Benn has been described as the “fittest 55-year-old on planet Earth” as he prepares for a shock ring return.
The ex-world champion has not fought professionally since November 1996 but will resume his career on November 23, according to his promoter Mark Peters.
“I wouldn’t support Nigel if I didn’t believe he was fit to box,” he added.
The British Boxing Board of Control (BBBoc) is against the fight, which will be sanctioned by the rival British and Irish Boxing Authority (Biba).
Benn – whose last fight was a defeat by Irishman Steve Collins 23 years ago – has passed all Biba’s medical tests, while there will be a specialist in head trauma and a portable brain scanner available at ringside on fight night.
Former world champion Sakio Bika, 40, has been tipped to be his opponent.
Peters, his promoter and long-time friend, told BBC Sport the story should be seen as a a positive one, and that even at 55, London-born Benn is still in a condition that most men half his age would envy.
“It’s not like Nigel left the sport, hung up his gloves and never trained again,” he said. “He must be the fittest 55-year-old on planet Earth.
“He has still been training twice a day and he will shadow box anywhere.
“I wouldn’t support Nigel if I didn’t believe he was fit to box. Nor is he doing this for financial reasons. He is far from skint – in fact, he has just built a massive 10-bedroom property for himself in Australia, where he lives.
“It’s his life and his prerogative to fight.
“From his point of view, this is closure for him.”
Benn was part of a golden generation in the super-middleweight division in the 1990s, his all-action style leading to big fights with the likes of Collins and Chris Eubank.
There were attempts to arrange a fight with both of those two on this occasion, while an approach was also made to American Roy Jones Jr.
Instead, Benn is expected to face Cameroon-born Bika, who lost on points to the unbeaten Welsh former world champion Joe Calzaghe in 2006, and whose last fight was in 2017.
Benn fought Chris Eubank in 1990 and 1993, losing the first contest at Birmingham’s NEC and drawing the second at Old Trafford football ground. – BBC