07242017

Benn, 53, and Collins, 52, agree rematch – 21 years on

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Benn and Collins to fight again – 21 years on

Nigel Benn and Steve Collins have told BBC Sport they have agreed a rematch – even though neither man has fought since the 1990s and both are over 50.

Benn, 53, and Collins, 52, were once among the biggest names in the super-middleweight division.

Dublin-born Collins has twice beaten Londoner Benn, who retired after their second fight in 1996.

Details of the third fight are yet to be agreed but Benn expects it to take place in October or November.

The history

Nigel Benn and Steve Collins<!–

Benn, nicknamed ‘The Dark Destroyer’, held the WBO middleweight title and the WBC super-middleweight belt before retiring as a fighter following his second defeat by Collins at the Manchester Arena in November 1996.

First fight – 6 July 1996, Manchester

Collins ended Chris Eubank’s unbeaten record to win the WBO super-middleweight title in 1995, and successfully defended the title seven times, include twice against Benn.

Benn came into the first fight in July 1996 having lost his WBC World super middleweight title to Thulani Malinga.

Collins stopped his opponent in the fourth round, with Benn suffering an ankle injury, but the pair then had a rematch just four months later.

Second fight – 9 November 1996, Manchester

Benn went into the rematch seeking revenge, but Collins was relentless in his attacking strategy.

The Englishman battled through to the end of round six before retiring in his corner. Collins had two more fights, retaining his WBO title, retiring in July 1997.

How did we get here?

Benn, whose son Conor made his professional debut in April 2016, has talked up the possibility of a return to the ring before.

An attempt to organise a rematch with old rival Eubank came to nothing, but both Benn and Collins have indicated that they are ready to fight each other again.

If the British Boxing Board of Control refuses to sanction the bout, both fighters have said they would seek a boxing licence from abroad.

“It’s about the final chapter,” Benn said. “It’s about closure.

“I was going backwards and forwards with Chris and I thought: ‘I wouldn’t have a problem with Steve.’ So I asked him if he wants to fight. He said yes. No mucking about.”

Collins has not fought in almost 20 years, with an attempt to come out of retirement in 1999 halted when he collapsed during a sparring session.

The Irishman has also talked of fighting again in recent years, saying in a 2013 interview that he wanted to take on Roy Jones Jr.

Collins, whose son Steve Jr has been a professional boxer since 2013, said his motivations for taking on the fight with Benn were financial.

“It’s just about money, a payday which will allow me to buy some more land,” he said.

“I have no problem with Nigel. I have a lot of respect. I like him.”

‘I am Nigel “Benjamin Button” Benn’

Benn still has the power according to Rio Olympian and now professional fighter Joe Cordina<!–

Benn still has the power, according to Joe Cordina, the 2016 Olympic fighter who has since turned professional

Since his retirement, Benn has helped train young boxers, and has also made a career as a DJ – while in 2002, he appeared as a contestant in the first series of ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out Of Here.

He said that he feels in the best shape of his life, comparing himself to Benjamin Button, the F Scott Fitzgerald character who becomes younger in appearance as he gets older.

Benn added that he felt fitter now than he did at his professional peak, a time during which he said he was smoking cannabis and struggling with troubles in his personal life.

“I’m not angry any more and I can have everything I ever want,” he said. “I am Nigel ‘Benjamin Button’ Benn. I feel like I am in my thirties.”

Collins, nicknamed ‘The Celtic Warrior’, has worked as an actor since his last professional fight, appearing in the 1998 film Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.

He is confident that he will be cleared medically to fight Benn, despite the collapse that prevented his comeback in the late 1990s.

“I am not fighting a 20-year-old-guy,” he said. “I’m fighting someone the same age as me. There’s no disadvantage to anybody.

“I get medicals every year and the most impressive part is my MRI. ‘Excellent’ was how the neurosurgeon described it. I’m very healthy and very fit.”

What Next?

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