Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank fought each other twice on 18 November 1990 and 9 October 1993. Both fought at middleweight and super middleweight around the same time in 1985–97, and became rivals on both the domestic and world boxing scene.
Benn won his first 22 fights by knockout, earning the moniker ‘the Dark Destroyer’. Eubank was a cocky, flamboyant character, self titled ‘Simply the Best’ who began calling out Benn after his tenth bout.
The rivalry grew, with both men swearing that they would knock the other man out. The British public began to demand the fight to be made.
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Benn, having lost to Michael Watson, began to rebuild his career in America, winning the WBO middleweight title by knocking out Doug DeWitt. He then savaged Iran Barkley within one round in his first defence. Benn then agreed to meet Eubank with his title on the line, which set up the first fight. A rematch was held three years later.
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Over 42,000 crammed Old Trafford for one of the biggest boxing events ever staged. The bout was watched by half a billion people worldwide. Don King’s contract stipulated that not only would the winner join his stable of fighters, but also the loser.
This time Eubank’s ring walk went off without a hitch, commentator Reg Gutteridge making the classic call when Eubank performed his customary vault over the ropes into the ring, claiming; “The ego has landed”. The fight itself did not quite reach the brutal heights of the first, as neither man was as badly hurt. However, there were flurries of punches at the ends of the rounds, with both boxers trying to claim the rounds knowing that there was more chance of the fight lasting the distance as the bout progressed. One such exchange saw Benn in a corner knocked through the ropes, though Eubank used his body as well and Benn was not badly hurt. The final round was thrilling, with both boxers told they needed it to win. Most boxing experts agree that this was a truly classic round, Gutteridge referring to the two ‘magnificent warriors’ at its climax.
The final scores were 115-113 Eubank, 114-113 Benn, and 114-114. The bout was declared a draw – Benn retained his WBC belt, Eubank his WBO championship. Astonishingly, Don King had not written the event of a draw into the contract, and as a result neither fighter was contractually bound to join him.
The pair never fought again, despite a £6 million bout at Wembley stadium being touted for Eubank’s eight fight Sky deal.
Just when you thought that a third meeting was a thing of history, recently (December 2015) the pair have been talking about finally getting together for one final fight, the rubber match that never happened.