‘The Fight of Their Lives’ is the story of one of the best fights of the modern era, but ultimately one of the most tragic aftermath’s.
Nigel Benn and Gerald McClellen that night went beyond the realms of boxing, they were two removable forces that clashed like Trojans, fighting not only for the world championship, but for national pride, their careers and their lives.
Gerald McClellan in his pr
The fight is mentioned these days in a whisper! Fans are not sure whether to acclaim the fight or to treat it as a taboo subject. American challenger for Benn’s WBC title Gerald McClellan (Full Story below) was stopped in round 10.
The fight far surpassed any pre-fight hype that proceeded it and is now the stuff of legend, but shrouded in despair.
And then the bigger fight began! – McClellan fell into a coma and required an operation to remove a blood clot from his brain. He survived, but was left blind, death and unable to walk or take care of himself.
His devoted sister Lisa, as since looked after Gerald’s every whim and continues to struggle to financially support the needs of the former champion. So much so that the family have decided to sell Gerald’s treasured WBC world title belt to fund for his 24 hour care.
Kevin Lueshing, former boxer and life long friend and agent to Nigel Benn is responsible for the auction of the belt on Gerald’s behalf and also the making of the film. Together with John McKenna, assistant producer Lueshing have put together four years of footage, from the day Nigel and Gerald met again for the first time and through the struggles that both have had to come to terms with and get over.
Kevin Lueshing on The Steve Bunce Boxing Show, talking about the film and WBC belt auction
Benn still holds deep scars of that night, but it is Gerald who bears the damage both mentally and physically and the film is a must see piece of work, that will pierce the heart of the viewers and it will take a hard one to keep water from eye.
Lueshing recently sent us a preview of the film and I urge you to cancel whatever else you have got planned and watch it. The fight needs re-living again, we cannot forget it, we cannot forget Gerald McClellen. Lueshing was hoping he could raise enough money from auctioning the 22 year old genuine belt, that McClellen won by knocking out Julian Jackson in May 1993.
Fight preview Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan, weigh in and interview with McClellan
Sixteen years ago an epic battle took place at the New London Arenafor the WBC super middleweight title, a fight that is remembered as one of the most brutal, compelling and ultimately tragic boxing encounters that ever took place in a ring.
The two boxers involved were the UK`s defending champion “The Dark Destroyer” Nigel Benn and unbeaten American banger and former two time middleweight champion “The G-Man” Gerald McClellan.
The build up to the fight had been very heated with McClellan promising to knock out the champion inside a round. The press both sides of the pond written off Benn’s chances and most feared that our man, who had thrilled us many times previously, was now past his best and was going to get blown away like all of McClellan’s past foes.
Benn however saw things differently and replied to the challengers boasts with “No Yank is coming over here and bashing me up in front of the British people, my people.” Not only were Benn’s words fighting talk, they were delivered with 100% conviction, Benn never did give anything less in the ring.
Going into the fight McClellan was the worlds favourite to lift the title, the British bookmakers even had Benn as 3/1 underdog. Both fighters had big punching reputations in the boxing world, and were fearsome opponents. I don’t remember hearing or seeing a crowd so animated and hypnotised by a fight as this, the bell rang and what unfolded was something that can only sometimes be revisited, but will never be forgotten….
The Fight - Benn v McClellan 1995
Benn was a two weight champion who had fought Chris Eubank, Iran Barkley, Doug Dewitt, Michael Watson and ended his first twenty two fights by KO, with only one of them going past the fourth round.
McClellan was the two time middleweight king and widely regarded and ring ranked (27th) hardest hitters of all time, who had dispatched another Ring ranked (25th) hardest hitter in the first round in his last fight, and ended his two other WBC defences also in the first round.
The G-man picked up his first title (WBO) by knocking out John “The Beast” Mugabi also inside a round. McClellan also had an amateur win over the legendary future pound for pound number one, multi weight world champion Roy Jones Jr.
Both fighters had suffered two losses coming into the fight, McClellan dropping two point losses early in his career at the hands of Ralph Ward and Dennis Milton, and Benn’s losses both stoppages at the hands at the hands of Michael Watson and Chris Eubank, which lead many to believe the challenger would win via KO.
The night of the fight the atmosphere inside the London arena was electric, with the large majority of the crowd routing for the champion. The fight itself was the best and worst of boxing, and its hard pressed to think of another fight that comes close in terms of sheer emotion and energy.
McClellan started the fight like a young Mike Tyson, unloading bombs from the get go and knocking Benn out of the ring in the first round. With a count from the referee though which has since been criticised by many as being over generous, the Dark Destroyer managed to hold on and make it out of the round.
In the second the fight became more competitive with Benn bobbing and weave under McClellan’s onslaught and started to land his own left hooks. McClellan landed, but it was mostly single shots and Benn walked right through them and pushed McClellan back.
This continued into the middle rounds and Benn had somehow managed to fight his way back up on the the scorecards . It was around this time when McClellan started hanging out his mouthpiece, indicating he was having some sort of problems breathing. Surprisingly no one picked up on this and the fight was allowed to continue, unknown to the world the tragic events that were about to unfold.
Round eight and the fight was as close as it could possibly be, when suddenly the challenger unloaded a 4 punch combo which sent Benn into a corner and down, but also give him a chance to rest and make it through the round.
During the ninth McClellan would go down from an accidental head butt, again with the mouthpiece hanging from the mouth. He was clearly having serious problems, but again the fight was allowed to continue, McClellan showing true heart to get back up and continue.
The tenth and final round of the fight, things went from bad to worse for the G-Man, clearly having serious trouble was caught by a big right hand from Benn which again sent him to a knee, once again he got back to his feet but the end was close, within seconds Benn landed an uppercut and down he went to a knee for the final time, this time he could not make it back to his feet and was counted out. The champion had defended his title once again. Ironically McClellan was ahead on two or the three scorecards at the time.
For Benn it was his defining moment and a chance to silence his critics, his status as a true warrior of the ring would be cemented forever, he would go on to have five more fights after this one but would never be the same fighter he was before or during the McClellan fight, winning two and losing his WBC title to Thulani Malinga over 12 rounds, a fourth round TKO against Steve Collins for the WBO title and retiring on his stool in the sixth round in a rematch with Collins again for the WBO title.
The video below is Nigel Benn with thoughts on meeting Gerald McClellan Prior to a tribute night for Gerald McClellan in London this film remembers one of most brutal fights in a British ring when Benn fought McClellan
People often refer to highly competitive fights as in the ring “wars,” and there have been many brutal fights since, and many not even close, but if they are to be called wars then Benn vs McClellan must be considered boxing’s equivalent of world war 2 in the respect that it was both brutal and equally as tragic, leaving neither man the same ever again.
courtesy to Danny Nolan for his contribution to this post.
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Gerald McClellan vs Thomas Hearns – Kronk Exhibition Match – 1990
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