The Case for Nigel Benn in the Hall

By Ted Sares on October 20, 2011
The Case for Nigel Benn in the Hall
To those who say, “If you have to wonder about it, then he doesn’t belong,” I say poppycock

Some say that Nigel Benn is mostly a “forgotten warrior” perhaps because he will forever be linked to Gerald McClellan…

Fifth in a Series of Five

“The British presses hate a winner who’s British. They don’t like any British man to have balls as big as a cow’s like I have.”—Nigel Benn

When you think of Nigel Benn, you think of words like fury, rage, and ferocity. These were his trademarks in the ring and provided uncommon excitement and entertainment. Unfortunately, his career defining fight ended with tragic results and detracts from his entire body of work. As one writer stated, “One man’s finest hour was the end of another man’s life as he knew it.” Let’s look at that work now and see how his accomplishments stack up insofar as being a prospective inductee into the International Boxing Hall of Fame.

Record: Nigel “The Dark Destroyer” Benn, a Middleweight and Super Middleweight champion, 42-5-1 with 35 KOs (three of his defeats came at the end of his career), was born in Liford, England the son of Barbadian immigrants. As an amateur, he had a fine record of 41 wins and 1 loss. His pro KO percentage was an excellent 83%.

Style: Ostensibly an orthodox fighter, he was a ballsy and brash bomber and is still considered to be one of the hardest punchers of all time, but when he fought at the top level, he sometimes and inexplicably became somewhat unglued. Still, his ferocity and velocity were unmatched and were launched with evil intentions, the purest of rage, and often punctuated with a whirlwind of deadly hooks and uppercuts from all angles. With Nigel, the thing was his excitement and unpredictability. You knew what to expect—or maybe you didn’t—which made him so exciting. He would come out bombing and winging and try to KO his opponents in short order usually knocking them out, but his “take no prisoner” strategy sometimes meant that he himself would be stopped. Some even called him one of boxing’s bad boys, and labeled his style as downright dirty. I’ll refer to it as “win at all cost.”

As to the rage that seemed to be an inherent part of his persona, a reading of his compelling autobiography “Dark Destroyer,” a great boxing book, offers many clues and glimpses into what made Benn fight with such fury. It is highly recommended and rather than spoil it for you, I will keep silent as to its content. At any rate, Nigel presented an unabashedly snarling mien and personified the aura of a person you would not want to meet in a dark alley. In short, he was one tough guy!

Quality of Opposition: Excellent. Aside from the hapless Winston Burnett (who would finish with 20-98-3), Benn fought boxers with mostly decent records in his early years, a departure from the norm. Guys like Reggie Miller, Abdul Umaru Sanda, Darren Hobson, Nicky Piper, Jamaican Anthony Logan, Kid Milo, Canadian Dan Sherry, Puerto Rican Jose Quinones, American Sanderline Williams, Congolese Mbayo Wa Mbayo, David Noel, and Argentinean Hector Lescano all came in with winning records.

He then stepped up to fight South African Thulani Malinga (twice), Italian and former WBC Super Middleweight champion Mauro Galvano (twice), former world champion Chris Eubank (twice), Juan Carlos Gimenez Ferreyra (46-6-3 coming in), future world champ and victor over “Sugar Boy” Malinga (40-9 at the time), Vincenzo Nardiello (26-3), tough Michael Watson (21-1-1 coming in), and of course Steve Collins (twice).

While the names here might not resonate as much with an average American boxing fan as they do with one in Europe or the UK, they should strike a intimate chord with all serious boxing fans regardless of location. These fighters, along with Herol Graham and Robin Reid, represented the cream of the crop during a great era of fighters in the UK. But Benn also fought two top Americans in Iran “The Blade” Barkley (a warrior who fought in a savage manner not unlike Benn’s) and the great Gerald McClellan and beat them both by stoppage. Of course, he beat Doug Dewitt as well. Benn was competitive with the world’s best.

Chronology: As a juvenile, he was a delinquent to say the least, but a four-year tenure as a soldier in the Royal Fusiliers, which he credits as the turning point in his life, forced him to embrace a need for self-discipline. Benn turned professional in 1987 and began a remarkable streak of 22 consecutive KO wins (100% KO percentage). The streak extended until 1989 during which time he beat tough Fernin Cherino, and then won the British Commonwealth Middleweight title with a win over Abdul Umaru. But he lost this title to the very tough Michael Watson by a sixth round knockout and with it, his undefeated record as well.

His next fight with limited Jorge Amparo was his first abroad. After two more wins, he got his initial opportunity at a world championship and made the most of it. He duked it out for the WBO World Middleweight champion with Doug Dewitt. Benn captured the crown by knocking out the resilient and granite-chinned DeWitt (who had lasted 12 rounds against Thomas Hearns) in the eighth round. His first defense came against former world champion Iran “The Blade” Barkley and after being badly rocked himself, he knocked out Barkley in round one in a furious and savage shootout which was Benn’s trademark. Eventually, however, he lost the world title when he was stopped in 1990 by the flamboyant Chris Eubank in round nine of a very close battle in Birmingham.

In 1991, he KO’d the vastly underrated Robbie Sims and half-brother of Marvin Hagler. Sims had beaten Roberto Duran and many other top level fighters like Tony Chiaverini, Doug Dewitt, and John Collins. Reflective of Benn’s power, that loss would be Robbie’s only career stoppage defeat. He then embarked on another undefeated streak, this time reaching 15. After beating his future conqueror and world champion “Sugar Boy” Malinga by a 10-round decision, he won the WBC’s world Super Middleweight title with a knockout in round four over defending world champion Mauro Galvano. After two more wins, he fought a rematch in 1993 with Eubank and retained his title with a 12-round draw before 42,000 fans in Manchester. Next came tough Henry Wharton (undefeated coming in) and Juan Carlos Gimenez, both of whom he beat by decision.

I am not going to dwell on Benn’s next fight (with the great bomber Gerald McClellan), for it has already received voluminous treatment, but I will not ignore it either and in this regard I quote Ian McNeilly who poignantly said, “The fight was one of the best and worst to ever take place. It was a triumphant and tragic microcosm of boxing.” Clearly, it would change Nigel’s life forever. According to his trainer, the tragic results of that fight took away Nigel’s fighting spirit.

Quoting McNeilly again, “The story of Gerald McClellan is a painful one, one that fighters, boxing writers and fans seem to find it easy not to discuss… This is because he is a living embodiment of the risks fighters take every time they step through the ropes, a reminder of the dangers that are ignored at peril. To dwell on cases like Gerald McClellan would destroy the sport. To ignore him is to debase ourselves.” Hopefully, no serious boxing fan would ever ignore Gerald MeClellan.

The “Black Destroyer” would go on to beat future world champion Vincenzo Niardiello and game Danny Perez before losing to “Sugar Boy” Malinga the second time around by a 12-round decision. In so doing, he also would lose his WBC world title. Then, he was given a another chance at a world title, this time the WBO’s world title, but he lost to Steve Collins by fourth round knockout in Manchester (a fight in which controversy arose as to an injury to Benn’s ankle)...and after losing the rematch, it was clear Nigel had come to the end of his glorious career. As writer Jack Dunne once said, “…he lost to Steve Collins, twice by way of TKO, guess what? It was just Nigel’s time, NOBODY fights forever. Father Time is STILL the undefeated, undisputed champion of the fight game, all times, all divisions.”

Some say that Nigel Benn is mostly a “forgotten warrior” perhaps because he will forever be linked to Gerald McClellan and it is admittedly painful to think of him without remembering their tragic fight. But if so, that is manifestly unfair. Any assessment of Benn must be based on his entertaining style and accomplishments in the ring. Again, to quote McNeilly, “...the many who watched saw a man (Benn) reach down into his inner being and summon something to destroy a force (McClellan) supposedly greater than himself (Gerald was a 4-1 favorite). And as we looked on, amazed and enthralled, we cheered as life slipped away from a fellow man slumped, defeated, in his corner.”

Whether he gets into the International Boxing Hall of Fame remains to be seen, but if he fails, it will not be because of his lack of providing incredible excitement and indelible memories for boxing fans throughout the world. Nigel Benn was an eccentric, a one of a kind and will not soon be forgotten by boxing aficionados.

He reportedly now lives with his family on the Spanish island of Mallorca where he became a born-again Christian and, later on, an ordained pastor.

Well there it is. I cannot help but feel Nigel Benn chances for the Hall are pretty darn good. After all, he was a two-time world champion who fought the best of UK competition at a time when that competition was keen and perhaps the best in the world, he beat two great American fighters, he always gave the crowd its money worth, and he finished with a great KO percentage.

As for those who say, “If you have to wonder about it, then he doesn’t belong,” I say poppycock—because I’ll show you any number of fighters in the Hall where I have to “wonder about it.”

Follow us on Twitter@boxing_com to continue the discussion

Nigel Benn Vs. Fermin Chirino

nigel benn vs abdul umaru sanda

Nigel Benn v Iran Barkley 18/08/89

Nigel Benn Vs Michael Watson (PART 1/2)

Nigel Benn Vs Michael Watson (PART 2/2)

Chris Eubank - Nigel Benn: "The Best of Enemies"

Nigel Benn VS. Gerald McClellan - 2/25/95 - Part 1

Nigel Benn VS. Gerald McClellan - 2/25/95 - Part 2

Nigel Benn VS. Gerald McClellan - 2/25/95 - Part 3

Nigel Benn VS. Gerald McClellan - 2/25/95 - Part 4

Nigel Benn VS. Gerald McClellan - 2/25/95 - Part 5

Nigel Benn VS. Gerald McClellan - 2/25/95 - Part 6 - After The Fight!

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  1. mikecasey 02:13am, 10/26/2011

    Some years ago a very sarcastic young doctor told me that my blood was interfering with my alcohol stream.

  2. The Thresher 02:33pm, 10/25/2011

    The Welshman, not enough

  3. The Welshman 11:33am, 10/25/2011

    i wonder What % of glenmorangie single malt is in that blood ???

  4. Randy Loathsome 10:57am, 10/25/2011

    You have blood? Hell, you’ve got to be okay!

  5. The Thresher 08:52am, 10/25/2011

    Just got back. They took some blood to see if I still have an infection.

    No more cigars—ever again.

  6. Randy Loathsome 06:21am, 10/25/2011

    Ted, good luck on the health front. Hope your doc says ok. Cut out the cigars for a while. Come back fighting fit!
    JC against Benn would have been a great scrap in their respective primes, whoever won.

  7. The Thresher 06:10am, 10/25/2011

    Maybe on second thought JC would beat Benn based on their respective styles. You are correct when you assert Benn had the style Joe liked, Almost like a judo expert, he would use Benn’s energy to his advantage. Yes, I can see that so I will grant you a POINT TAKEN and concede the point.

  8. The Thresher 06:07am, 10/25/2011

    Arghhh. That’s what pneumonia will do to you. My energy level on a scale of 1-10 is at 6.5 and rising thank God. I’m about to go to the doctor for a status exam.

  9. Randy Loathsome 05:59am, 10/25/2011

    You’re sure confusing me with his ‘prome’

  10. The Thresher 05:53am, 10/25/2011

    That’s why I said prome to prime—to confuse everyone.

  11. Randy Loathsome 05:38am, 10/25/2011

    Not sure when Benn’s prime was either. He had a sort of up-and-down career and his finest moment was in the McClellan tragedy, though it wasn’t his peak as such.  The more that I think about it I have a hunch that he should have stayed at Middleweight, but maybe he couldn’t. He appeared to just follow Eubank up in weight and that was maybe a short-sighted strategy. Eubank was a big Middleweight - remember he finished at Cruiserweight.

  12. BristolOne 05:16am, 10/25/2011

    Benn - Calzaghe in both of their primes would have been a fantastic fight - though Joe is one of those fighters that doesn’t have a clearly defined prime. I think in the end Calzaghe would win pretty comfortably as Benn is just the kind of fighter that Calzaghe liked to fight and Benn would tire as the fight went on.. Neither would have backed up an inch and if we are talking pre hand trouble I think Calzaghe would have stopped him.

  13. The Welshman 03:37am, 10/25/2011

    Regarding the second Benn-Eubank fight, the draw, if Benn had not been deducted one point for a foul ( low blow ) he would have won that fight on points that’s how close it was, small margins make big differences but rules are rules, they cannot be ignored. but so very, very close.

  14. The Thresher 05:30pm, 10/24/2011

    Prime vs prime

  15. Randy Loathsome 05:29pm, 10/24/2011

    .....and Benn lost a lot of KO power when he moved to Super-Middle.

  16. Randy Loathsome 05:28pm, 10/24/2011

    You may be right, Ted. But consider the opponents that beat or at least gave Benn trouble: Malinga, Galvano, Eubank, Watson, Collins. None of them were intimidated and they could all box. I reckon JC would have closed both his eyes.

  17. The Thresher 05:18pm, 10/24/2011

    Randy Loathsome.with all due respect,  must disagree. Prime Benn beats prime JC, but I do know I am in the minority on that one.

  18. BristolOne 11:56am, 10/24/2011

    Benn was one of the most exciting fighters of his era. He could be wild at times - as in the Watson fight, but his comeback from that loss really impressed me. There aren’t too many around like him today - nice article Ted.

  19. The Welshman 10:23am, 10/24/2011

    Again from Eubank’s autobiograhy this time regarding their classic first fight Chris says this about Nigel’s power ( page 130 ) Quote—-The sole memory i have from those forgotten rounds ( 4 to 6 ) was when he dropped me with a body shot that felt as though it had ruptured my being, BOOM it was a body shot that nearly broke me in two.—-Unquote.

  20. The Welshman 10:11am, 10/24/2011

    If i may quote from Chris Eubank’s excellent autobiography Chris says this about Nigel Benn (page 123 ) Quote—-He ( Benn ) was the most terryfying man i ever met, and still is—-Unquote.

  21. The Welshman 09:31am, 10/24/2011

    Gentlemen point taken.

  22. Randy Loathsome 08:40am, 10/24/2011

    It’s about Benn but Benn fought in the era of Eubank and Watson, in fact lost to them, so to mention them is instructive. And Calzaghe followed them all onto the world stage, like it or not, beating Eubank in the process. It’s true that JC didn’t capture the hearts of even the Brits for too many years but I find it hard to dismiss him in any way - whether it’s convenient now to claim that Lacy was over-rated, for example, or because he appeared to duck other opponents, which has no basis in truth. Calzaghe ducked no-one.  When he was finally able to get the top European fighter into the ring (Kessler at the time) he demonstrated his superior talents yet again.

    This is an article on Benn, true enough, but I still believe that Benn, exciting as many of his fights were, would have been beaten comprehensively by Calzaghe. That’s the only point and a correct one, I believe. Sorry, Ted, but it needs saying.

  23. The Thresher 06:14am, 10/24/2011

    Joseph (aka the Welshman), no one is going after JC. Old Yank was the one who first brought him up and put him on a pedestal. I simply feel that while he is an ATG, this is a Benn thread and I wanted to bring it back to where IT IS a Benn thread. No disrespect of JC was and is intended. But I will repeat, I would rather watch Benn fight than JC or just about any other fghter in history.

  24. raxman 06:04am, 10/24/2011

    the welshman - did you actually read the comments from the start? they all speak of JC skill in the highest regards. the issue that Ted and others have raised at the end was that as dominant as he was none of his fights were ones you would watch ahead of say a great benn fight you can, and i have, watched JC fight and marveled at his speed, skill, agility and chin but the fact is until the end of his career when he fought the best 168er in kessler he did really play it safe, fighting in wales only and then fighting a couple of old men in jones (who has proven to be completely shot) and hopkins. the great tragedy is that Calzaghe could’ve accomplished so much more and although he has the 0, his appeal as a whole is less than Benn and Eubank. i don’t think anyone is saying he ducked but hell, he should’ve unified those titles 5years earlier than he did. if you want to see the esteem we hold JC in you should’ve read from where Old Yank first raised him into the thread

  25. THE WELSHMAN 05:21am, 10/24/2011

    Let’s get one thing straight Joe Calzaghe never ducked any super-middleweight in his era, and i for one can’t see anything wrong with being a great champion at one weight, i ask all you J.C. doubters to research the mans career ( amateur and pro. ) it’s quite incredible, J.C. was not selected for the G.B. olympic squad because of the politics in welsh amateur boxing but in my humble opinion J.C. is G.B.s greatest ever amateur Joe fought for thirty years (yes that’s 30 years it’s not a misprint ) from the age of eight years old to the age of thirty eight years old, fought many hundreds of fights AND ONLY LOST TWO. surely these stats and this man are quite incredible so please gentlemen let’s show some respect, and just before i end please don’t mention Sven Ottke in the same breath as Joe Calzaghe, but of course i’ve now come to the conclusion there will always be an element who will rubbish the great Joe Calzaghe, and i accept people are entitled to their opinions NO MATTER HOW RIDICULOUS THEY ARE.

  26. Your Name 08:38pm, 10/23/2011

    “there was no reason for him (Gerald McClellen) to go down”..Ferdie Pacheco

  27. The Thresher 04:09pm, 10/23/2011

    JC45, Ha, Lacy even against a shot Roy Jones wsn’t too pretty. HA.

  28. raxman 02:13pm, 10/23/2011

    ted - yeah i totally agree - Joe C did what all these fighters that are stars in their home country do - they fight there against minimal opposition because the pay days are great for local heroes. i saw a list once complied of the 15 pro boxers who were guaranteed at least $1mil per fight and most of them were big fish in the small pond. here in oz we have Green and Mundine who make the big dollars here so why risk fighting for less money and risk losing. Like joe c did, it appears now that Mundine is on the end of his career and doenst have many more fights in him he is now taking some risks for glory. its interesting to note that Green was a real boxer (fighting the 168’s like Beyer in Germany) until Mundine appeared and gave him a home country rival to play off. rivals are so important in boxing ali had his frazier et al, leonard had hearns and duran, and as mentioned our brit boys had ea other - Joe Calzaghe didnt have that. the real shame`tho is that he took the dollars makes sense approach and stayed home fighting manfredo etc instead of hitting the states and taking on the best - its as clear a sign as any of boxing diminshing standing as a sport in america that it is no longer the place to go, if as a boxer, you wanna get paid. and lets face it, thats what fighters care about today, the glory of beating and then being the best is a distant, distant, second.

  29. JC45 02:03pm, 10/23/2011

    Calzaghe v Starie is the worst fight I’ve ever watched in my life Ted. I’m like you mate. The Lacy win didnt do much for me. I remember watching Lacy on ESPN and being utterly unimpressed by him. He had no speed, no cleverness and wasnt a very big puncher. If we got rid of the bogus 168 division Lacey would have had to fight at 175. Imagine him against a prime Bob Foster , Michael Spinks or Roy Jones. Wouldnt be pretty.

  30. The Thresher 01:55pm, 10/23/2011

    I totally agree. I’d pay to watch Benn. Not sure I would to watch JC.

  31. JC45 01:51pm, 10/23/2011

    The Mitchell fight is the only entertaining Calzaghe fight Ive ever watched. Bad stoppage though.

  32. JC45 01:49pm, 10/23/2011

    Benn’s my favourite Pom fighter of all time. I’m not saying he’s the best but he was incredibly exciting. A real entertainer. Benn is like Gatti. Not a great fighter per se but a great fan favourite and a great entertainer. Even though I dont rate Gerald McClellan like many do that win by Benn typified his cojones. Calzage and Eubanks never won a fight against a killer like the GMan who was a huge favourite for the fight. Joe’s wins against the ancient Hopkins and Jones isnt in the same ballpark as Nigel’s win over McClelland. Along with Turpin beating Robinson and Honeyghan beating Curry its the best win by a UK fighter I can think of.  Cheers Everyone.

  33. The Thresher 01:47pm, 10/23/2011

    Oh man do I ever remember that. “Fight like Watson.”

  34. THE WELSHMAN 12:28pm, 10/23/2011

    Mike Casey says in his post (look below) he thought “Watson was on the cusp of being the best of all three” well i can vividly remember in the early/mid. 90s at training sessions my old amateur trainer bawling out “i don’t want you fighting like Benn, i don’t want you fighting like Eubank i want you to fight like Watson” of course i knew what he meant Chris and Nigel really were rough tough fighter brawlers and Michael was the classic boxer a wonderful exponent of the sweet science, i loved all three and of course Collins followed up just behind them, i really feel Chris and Nigel were just past their best when Steve caught up with them .

  35. The Thresher 12:10pm, 10/23/2011

    Man, I’ve been wondering where you were. Yeah, I agree, Eubank or Benn. Either one works for me. Poor Watson’s career ended too soon for him to make it.

    JC is a lock. He becomes elegible in 2013.

  36. THE WELSHMAN 12:05pm, 10/23/2011

    If you look back at the terrific round-robin series of fights between Benn, Eubank and Watson i think it’s fair to say Eubank comes out on top so maybe there’s a case for Chris to be consdered for induction ahead of Nigel however Chris did not have those really big scalps on his record that Nigel had, namely Barkley and McClellan so i think that’s just enough to give Nigel the edge over Chris and YES i feel Nigel will be the next Brit inducted into the I.B.H,O.F. of course it’s almost three years since Calzaghe hung up the gloves and i believe Joe is a stonewall certainty for the hall so who knows?

  37. The Thresher 11:38am, 10/23/2011

    Minter started the Brit raid with his ambush of Sugar Ray Seales.

  38. mikecasey 10:13am, 10/23/2011

    Sibson would be right at the top of the middleweights today, Ted - even though his ‘head’ had to be right in the way of Jerry Quarry. He had to be inspired. Sibbo too often laboured, but was sensational when he let fly - witness his quick destructions of Alan Minter and John Collins. But Hagler was the champ back them as we know. And Sibson’s preparation for that match was all over the place.

  39. The Thresher 09:50am, 10/23/2011

    Rax, Mike, here are some names to have some fun with::There were or are other mid-weight warriors. Mark Kaylor, Lloyd Honeyghan, Robin Reid, Shea Neary, Naseem “Prince” Hamed, Allen Minter, Dave Boy Green, Errol Christie, Herol Graham, Billy Schewer, Lester Jacobs, Richard Williams, Steve Roberts, Takaloo, Jawaid Khaliq, Stephen Smith, Wayne Rigby,  John Stracy, Colin Dunne, Michael Ayers, Ricky Hatton, Tony Sibson, Brian Magee, Matthew Macklin, Ricky “The Rickster” Burns and Carl Froch. As well, Paul “Real Gone Kid” Smith, Graham The “Duke” Earl, streaking Amir Khan, Ryan Rhodes,  Kevin Mitchell, Jason Cook, Darren Barker, Lenny Daws, and Jamie Moore. Chris Pyatt (47-5) was a former world middleweight champion who beat Sumbu Kalambay in 1993 for the title but lost it the next year to the fierce Steve Collins. Pyatt was a fine fighter, but enjoyed a lot of physical advantages at 154 that didn’t carry up to 160.  In keeping with the gritty Brit spirit, these lads left or leave very little in the ring when they fight.

  40. The Thresher 09:25am, 10/23/2011

    My issues with Joe are that he was in few awe inspiriing fights, he fought a lot of guys on their downward slide, he exposed Lacy as being terrible rather than himself as being great, his fight with Manfredo was horrible, but his fight with Kessler was fine though not a classic.

    Agianst Bryan Mitchell in 2003, he was put on Queer Street but came raging back like a madman to take out Mitchell. That was the best JC I ever saw. After that KO, he fought a lot of distance fights.

    Is he a lock for the Hall?.Of course. Would I rather watch Benn fight? Of course.

  41. mikecasey 08:02am, 10/23/2011

    Some time ago, my friend and fellow historian Tracy Callis stated that opponents couldn’t train for Jim Corbett, Ray Robinson and Joe Calzaghe, because there was no way to do so. Joe was oddly unique. He did a lot of things wrong, but he did them right - to paraphrase what Carmen Basilio once said about Gene Fullmer. Calzaghe also had the toughness and sheer bloody-mindedness of Monzon. He was a damn hard man and I think he quite genuinely believed - like Monzon - that nobody could beat him.

  42. raxman 09:00pm, 10/22/2011

    old yank - thats right - the videos you would’ve seen would’ve been the early stuff when he still had his knock out punch - people dont realise that prior to 2002 Joe c was 32-0 with 28 ko’s or something like that. joe could bang. you could’ve made some serious money betting in the states against lacey - he was still being thought of as a miniature tyson then wasn’t he? and the jingoistic american boxing fan wouldn’t have given joe a shot. i had the same thing when ward fought kessler first up in the super 6’s i found a group of danish backpackers here in melbourne and took 200 of there australian dollars. it was cruel but if people want to be ignorant about pure boxing ability then they deserve an expensive lesson on the sport. a lot of people thought kessler would beat joe too when they fought which i thought odd regardless of the young kessler’s power

  43. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:43pm, 10/22/2011

    raxman—One of my cousins was a huge fan of Calzaghe.  He ending up going to grad school in the UK and would send me what are now “antique” VHS tapes of Calzaghe.  I literally thought I was going to get my azz kicked by some US Lacy when I told them I was predicting Lacy would not win a round and that Calzaghe would stop Lacy in the 11th.  I got part right and Calzaghe came damn close to stopping Lacy in the 11th.  If that was Joe before the hand issues, Lacy would have been outta there!

  44. Nopporn 03:58pm, 10/22/2011

    No…... Benn doesn’t deserve it!  He’s far from being inducted into the HOF.

  45. The Thresher 02:58pm, 10/22/2011

    raxman, thanks. Like I said, when it comes to JC, I’m no expert.

  46. raxman 02:49pm, 10/22/2011

    old yank - the other thing about Joe C is that those “slaps” were actually more like “chops” (the like of which we’ve seen the big boys up at heavy do for ever) and from the affect they had on his opponents they hurt a hell of a lot more than they looked. someone commented that joe wasn’t well known even in the uk until he fought Lacy well i couldn’t believe watching that fight how little Lacy’s corner knew about Joe, not to mention the US commentators both of whom were continually saying thru the early rounds “he can’t keep up this pace”. Had they never seen any of his fights? that is exactly what Joe did. he started punching and didnt stop until the final bell - he was like my countryman jeff fenech in that way - coincidentally they both had chalk for hands too. re Joe’s gyro-scope you mentioned, my favourite part of his style was the way he would pivot on his front foot - 5 punch combo-pivot- 5 punch combo! his opponents heart would break when round after round they’d fail to connect only to do so eventually and find his chin was as solid as any

  47. raxman 02:31pm, 10/22/2011

    another great article ted - but 5of5 means the case for…. articles are over? say it aint so? i would like to think there is no question that he’d go into the hall. it really shows that fighters are made by the competition they have - neither eubank or benn would have had the careers they did without the existence of the other - not to mention they had watson, herol graham and H wharton to fight and solidify their reps. As for Benn though, he was the excitement machine at 160-68. he’s another one, like hearns, who’s vulnerability combine with his aggression made him, for mine, one of the most captivating fighters of all time - if only David Haye had half his spirit he may’ve stopped Vlad Klit!

  48. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:43pm, 10/21/2011

    Calzaghe’s win (albeit controversial) over Hopkins (based on what Hopkins had just accomplished before meeting Calzaghe and what he went on to continue to accomplish after Calzaghe), speaks VOLUMES about just how crafty Calzaghe was.

  49. "Old Yank" Schneider 04:34pm, 10/21/2011

    Randy—Calzaghe had a gyroscope in his head and body.  here is NO ONE I’ve ever seen appear to be so off-balance but end up in perfect position to either throw or defend.  It was a pleasure to watch.  He was as unconventional a southpaw as ever fought.  NOTHING about the “rules” on fighting a southpaw applied—lead rights he could see coming—in fact, his apparent off-balance condition INVITED lead rights for which he countered with great effect.  He would fluidly switch from fighting off his front or back foot.  He befuddles nearly everyone he fought - -including the crafty Hopkins.  He was dramatically under-appreciated by American fans.

  50. Randy Loathsome 01:03pm, 10/21/2011

    It’s worth emphasising that when Benn went to the states and beat DeWitt and Barkley that he had already been humiliated by Watson and not many here (in the UK I mean)  truly believed in him any more. And that when he fought the Gman he was right to say that he was lined up to fight and lose. I guess that’s why I was finally sold on him.

  51. Randy Loathsome 12:59pm, 10/21/2011

    Not surprising since Joe fought mainly in Europe as you know. But the demo job on Lacy - over-rated as he might have been - was pretty damn’ impressive and indicative of his talent, I believe.
    JC was, of course, the next generation from that of the others I mention but he had a major confidence which he always fulfilled. He was accused of arrogance even early on but he always walked the walk too.

  52. The Thresher 12:54pm, 10/21/2011

    Wow, That’s some statement, But trurth be told, I don’t know that much about Joe C. I do know that he always did what was necessary and possessed a harnessed rage. HIs hand speed was something as well. Joe really went unnoticed here in the States.

  53. Randy Loathsome 12:44pm, 10/21/2011

    I read you, Ted, but I would watch the films of both tragic fights rather than either Klitschko. Sorry, just had to bring in those two dwarfs! Snarl!!

  54. Randy Loathsome 12:41pm, 10/21/2011

    Having said all that in praise of Benn, Eubank and Watson, I do believe that prime Calzaghe would have beaten all three and Steve Collins as well. I don’t think there’s much doubt that Collins retired in order to leave his legacy un-touched by a loss to Calzaghe, but that’s only my opinion.

  55. The Thresher 12:38pm, 10/21/2011

    I can’t watch it. Never could after the first few times. Same with Watson-Eubank.

  56. Randy Loathsome 12:36pm, 10/21/2011

    For reasons diverse I always preferred Eubank and Watson to Benn.
    BUT when he fought the Gman I became like Don King and truly believed in his spirit of grit and pugnacity. Because of the resultant severe and heart-breaking damage to McClellan’s health and life it’s a tough one to watch again but Benn’s show of guts is what helps to make boxing so great - and so tragic.

  57. The Thresher 12:21pm, 10/21/2011

    The Tache, the excitement back then was palpable and few Yanks were aware of it.

  58. The Tache 10:32am, 10/21/2011

    Nigel Benn was always one of my favourite fighters for the reasons already covered in this excellent article. He may not have been the best boxer ever but was a real warrior, which for me is far more important than the current obsession of protecting an unbeaten record by cherry picking your opponents.

    What the statistics can’t capture is the genuine excitement around British boxing at that time, his fights with Eubank were massive events in England, drawing in boxing fans and housewives alike. Live on primetime, free TV, millions of viewers and everyone talking about it, at work, schools or in the pub.

    Win lose or draw, the “Dark Destroyer” would always be in what he used to call “a tear up”

    I would put Nigel in the HOF over Joe Calzaghe any day of the week purely for who he fought and how he fought. Both Benn and Eubank have said that Calzaghe was better than them, but in my opinion Joe left it far too late in his career before he left his comfort zone and tested himself. To be honest, Calzaghe wasn’t even a household name in Britain until he fought Lacy. I feel we will never know how good Calzaghe really was, whereas Benn,as Pugknows said, left nothing in the ring.

  59. pugknows 09:29am, 10/21/2011

    The tragedy of his fight with G Man superimposed over the tragedy of Watson and Eubank make these two fights monumental and unique in boxing history. Each of the 4 left nothing in the ring. Each paid dearly—some far more than others,.

  60. pugknows 09:28am, 10/21/2011

    The fifth in a series of five.

  61. "Old Yank" Schneider 09:00am, 10/21/2011

    Benn, Eubank, Watson, Calzaghe—all in as far as I’m concerned.

  62. The Thresher 07:52am, 10/21/2011

    Yes, Tex. Robbie was rarely stopped and was vastly underrated.

  63. TEX HASSLER 07:48am, 10/21/2011

    Benn was a great puncher and tough warrior who came to fight and fight hard. His KO of Robbie Simms (who deserves far more credit than he has recieved ) alone indicates his power and skill. Benn would have my vote if I had one. Yes I remember him and remember him as a great fighter. Fine article, Mr. Sares. Thanks for reminding us of Benn.

  64. The Thresher 07:13am, 10/21/2011

    Of course, God knows how mant times I have touted Tony DeMarco for the Hall. My latest is awaiting release in a magazine in about a week.

  65. The Thresher 07:12am, 10/21/2011

    Rich Torsney knows his stuff. He fought Hagler three times in the amateurs and is a top mate.

  66. mikecasey 06:58am, 10/21/2011

    Rich, I agree totally. These were the golden age fighters. I have written many articles on this subject and the dilution of quality as the years have passed. Pender never gets a mention any more and I don’t know why. Downes against Benn would have been a firecracker. As for the great Tony DeMarco, ask the author what he thinks of Tony!

  67. Rich Torsney 06:31am, 10/21/2011

    Taking nothing away from the very tough Nigel Benn but how does Benn stack up versus guys like Tony DeMarco and Paul Pender having yet to be inducted int the IBHOF?  Forgive me for doing this when the conversation is about Benn a very credible boxer but if high levels of competition and beating world class guys is what counts then let’s try these names on for size.  DeMarco fought among others Johnny Saxton, Kid Gavilan, Carmen Basilio, Gaspar Ortega and Chico Vejar. Paul Pender fought Ray Robinson, Gene Fulmer, Carmen Basilio, Terry Downes and Tiger Jones. The IBHOF is vastly remiss for leaving out these two great Champions, DeMarco and Pender. My best wishes to former World Champion Nigel Benn.

  68. dollar bond 06:14am, 10/21/2011

    Another winner Ted, I have no problem with either Benn or Eubank in the Hall.

  69. Randy Loathsome 05:59am, 10/21/2011

    and the reason why it left a bad taste was that everyone knew what Thompson was like! All but Haye.

  70. Randy Loathsome 05:57am, 10/21/2011

    I guess, Mike, Haye’s conceit got the better of him that night. But the memory of that defeat lingered always with me regarding Haye - and maybe with him also!

  71. mikecasey 05:46am, 10/21/2011

    Yes, Randy, very good point. Haye clearly couldn’t believe it!

  72. Randy Loathsome 05:43am, 10/21/2011

    Carl Thompson! I’ll never forget my feelings when Haye forgot what made Carl great: a stubborn refusal to wilt even under the greatest pressure and the ability to fire back! It always made me question Haye’s brain-power knowing how strong ‘The Cat’ was.

  73. Randy Loathsome 05:40am, 10/21/2011

    Not to forget the man that none of them fought: Herol Graham! As much as I respected Graham’s skills, he’d have succumbed to all of them I feel.

  74. mikecasey 05:34am, 10/21/2011

    Oh, Carl was hugely dangerous and very crafty. I’ll never forget the night he hunted down Haye. Thompson was never out of any fight. He was always a bomb ready to go off. Heck of a nice fella with it too!

  75. Randy Loathsome 05:33am, 10/21/2011

    The case for Benn is clear. He defeated Barkley, De Witt and the Gman. The latter battle was tragic but it shouldn’t over-shadow Benn’s achievement. As he so memorably claimed in the post-fight euphoria, “They brought him (McClellan) over just to bash me up”.
    Benn showed enormous cajones to fight back and shock the fuck out of the Gman.
    But Benn succombed to both Watson and Eubank. Watson completely demolished an over-enthusuastic Benn by a skillful and courageous dfefensiveness followed by the dismantling of the aggressive but now exhausted Benn and finished with a a straight jab. And, of course, Eubank out-gutted Benn and finished Watson’s career with a an all Balls-out showing in the 11th round of their second fight.
    Super fights.

  76. The Thresher 05:28am, 10/21/2011

    Of course, the UK has its own version of Gatti as well and by that I mean Carl “The Cat” Thompson. Can you believe that a leading ESB “writer” once referred to the “Cat” as a “journeyman”?

  77. The Thresher 05:24am, 10/21/2011

    Oh yes, I agree. Watson was the more complete boxer. He had great style and moves and would have been one of the great Brit fighters of all time. Instead, he will have to settle for being one of the greatest Brits of all time. Watson is spelled M-A-N.

  78. mikecasey 05:21am, 10/21/2011

    Don’t know about you, Ted, but I always thought that Michael Watson was tragically on the cusp of being the best of all three.

  79. The Thresher 05:12am, 10/21/2011

    Watson, Eubank and Benn are the stuff of Brit theatre. They were the UK Expressway. They were great.

  80. Randy Loathsome 05:08am, 10/21/2011

    ....and… have also to include Eubank and Watson. Their paths are inextricably linked, each with the others.

  81. Randy Loathsome 05:05am, 10/21/2011

    Without even reading your (I’m very sure) fine piece, Nigel Benn should be in!
    Sorry, no arguments. Thanks

  82. mikecasey 04:33am, 10/21/2011

    It’s bulls and balls, Nigel. But you certainly had an iron pair yourself, mate!

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