Nigel Benn, the former world middleweight and super-middleweight champion, who had intended to fight aged 55 after twenty-three years away from the ring, has pulled out of his controversial return with to a shoulder injury.
Benn, a legend in British boxing, had been due to fight Cameroonian Sakio Bika, 40, who had been active as a high-level boxer up until 2017.
The British Boxing Board of Control had refused to licence Benn, and instead the fight was sanctioned by the British and Irish Boxing Authority (Biba).
The Benn-Bika cruiserweight bout was due to take place in Birmingham on 23 November, with Benn having talked about the return to fighting giving him “real closure” on a career which he believed had ended unsatisfactorily.
“With a heavy heart I am sad to say I had to make the hard decision today to hang up my boxing gloves,” wrote Benn on his Instagram account.
“I’d like to thank you all for supporting me throughout my career but the time is up for me. I thank you all for giving me an unbelievable career.”
Benn, standing alongside his son Conor who is also a boxer, explained how he had two cortisone injections in both of his shoulders before a sparring session.
“I had to call it quits today, I wanted a hard spar, but it just wasn’t happening. My shoulder started playing up and I could not throw a right hand at all.”
“Today’s the day I hand over the baton to my son Conor, who is going to carry on the name, but with me it comes to an end today.”
Last week, Benn’s son Conor, who is 16-0 as a boxer, had told Telegraph Sport: “I don’t know if I can watch his fights. I don’t know… I don’t think so. I was watching him sparring and I got quite emotional. It’s not nice, not a nice feeling. I can’t imagine what it’s like for my mum. It weren’t a nice feeling. He’s my dad. It’s not nice. I know the risk of this sport. It’s not a nice sport, really.
“We have all these incidents happening. I question myself doing this sometimes. What’s worth more, my health or my wealth? Is it worth it? I remind myself I’m a fighter. We know the risks. My dad doing it, think about all the wars he’s had and he’s come out unscathed. Why would you go and dabble your feet back in that pond?”