Nigel Benn refused licence to fight by British Boxing Board of Control ahead of expected comeback fight against Sakio Bika

Gareth A Davies
Known as The Dark Destroyer Nigel Benn ruled the super-middleweight division towards the end of his career in the 1990s - Getty Images Fee

The British Boxing Board of Control has refused to grant Nigel Benn a licence to return to the sport at the age of 55, 23 years after his last professional fight. 

Benn, a two-weight former world champion has called a press conference for Thursday, when he is expected to confirm his comeback fight for Nov 23 in Birmingham, against another former champion, Sakio Bika, 40, of Cameroon, who last fought in 2017.

Robert Smith, general secretary of the BBBofC, said that the risks were too great to consider licensing Benn. 

“We were approached by Nigel Benn a few months ago inquiring whether we would grant him a licence, but he was told that we would not consider it, given his age and how long he has been away from the sport. We will not be licensing this event, it will not be under our jurisdiction. That has not stopped Nigel being a guest at our annual awards dinner on Friday night, as he is a treasured member of the boxing community.”

The event, promoted by Mark Peters, will be sanctioned under the jurisdiction of another boxing board, in the way that David Haye and Dereck Chisora fought at the Boleyn Ground in 2012, under the auspices of the Luxembourg Boxing Federation. 

Since he left the ring Benn has done a lot of things, including a stint in the jungle on I'm A Celebrity Credit: PA

The BBBofC had suspended Chisora and refused to licence him after his brawl with Haye at a press conference in Munich that year. 

Benn is believed to be returning at light-heavyweight, one weight class above the super-middleweight division he ruled towards the end of his career, in a 10-round bout. Benn’s son, Conor, a 22-year-old professional boxer himself with a record of 15 fights and 15 victories, revealed his father’s intention to return to the ring had been brought on by watching him box and train. “He got the itch watching me train and wanted to have another fight,” Conor Benn said.

Former world heavyweight champion George Foreman quit boxing for a decade, returning to the sport in 1987 at the age of 37, eventually going on to win the world title again at the age of 46.