Nigel Benn's return shocks Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga

Thulani Malinga knocked down Nigel Benn in the 12th round to end his reign as the WBC champion in 1996. Benn has made a shock return to the boxing ring at the age of 55.
Thulani Malinga knocked down Nigel Benn in the 12th round to end his reign as the WBC champion in 1996. Benn has made a shock return to the boxing ring at the age of 55.
Image: John Gichigi/ALLSPORT Allsport

Thulani "Sugarboy" Malinga was at a loss for words yesterday when he was informed that Briton Nigel "Dark Destroyer" Benn is making a comeback in boxing at the age of 55.

Malinga, 63, from Ladysmith in KwaZulu-Natal, ended Benn's reign as the WBC super-middleweight champion in front of 55,000 English fans at Telewest Arena in Newcastle on March 2 1996.

"Are you serious?" asked a shocked Malinga who thought yours truly was just pulling his leg. Benn retired later in 1996 after his second consecutive loss to Steve Collins.

Malinga, whose reign as the WBC super-middleweight holder was cut short in his first defence by Vincenzo Nardiello in 1997, said: "I so wish this was also happening here. I was going to make a comeback too and probably fight Benn again."

Benn, whose other losses were to Michael Watson in 1989 and Chris Eubank a year later, had 35 knockouts in 42 wins against five losses and a draw with Eubank in 1993.

Benn's son, Conor, who is an active welterweight fighter, is reported as saying: "He's back! I wonder who will he face."

Conor also confirmed to World Boxing News (WBN) that his famous father has a fight signed against a former WBC world titleholder who fought as recently as two years ago, although he did not say specifically who his father's opponent would be.

"It's guaranteed he's definitely fighting," Conor told WBN.

"One hundred million percent. Contracts have been signed. The ins and outs I'm not too sure of or what's in the contract word for word. But it won't be with Eddie Hearn, Frank Warren, Top Rank and ESPN or anything like that. It will be a Benn Promotions show."

The popular former world champion was quoted as saying: "20 years (later), I'm back. I'm ready. One more time. Feels good."

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