If the Nigel Benn vs Steve Collins rematch is aired on the right platform, we’ll watch it


If the recent reunion tours of Guns N’ Roses, Black Sabbath and The Stone Roses have taught us anything, it’s that there’s a huge market for nostalgia across the events industry.

In the music business, this has become the norm, with arguably only The Smiths standing in the way of a full set of possible, desireable reunions in the rock category at least.

When such announcements are made social media becomes a fun place to absorb conflicting opinions, from the deliriously excited devotees to the witty cynics who take pleasure in pissing on parades.

When it was announced on Thursday morning that ‘90s super-middleweight heroes Nigel Benn and Steve Collins have agreed to fight for a third time at the age of 53 and 52 respectively, Twitter may as well have been debating the merits of an Oasis ‘Be Here Now’ anniversary tour with Guigsy and Bonehead back in the band.



With Collins and Benn both inactive for 20-odd years – during which time 52-year-old ring legend Bernard Hopkins remained largely active – ring rust will be caked to their fists. But what this fight offers, if they can get it sanctioned of course, is an element of intrigue with the result by no means a foregone conclusion.

Not knowing the outcome is what makes sport exciting. That’s something Floyd Mayweather and Conor McGregor will struggle to sell to genuine boxing fans as they hope to break box office records later this year – only the ill-informed will pay to watch their event with an open mind over what the result will be.

In November 1996, Collins defeated Nigel ‘The Dark Destroyer’ Benn in six rounds, finishing off his super-middleweight rival in Manchester for the second time in the space of four months.

It reaffirmed Collins’ status as one of the great super-middleweights of the ‘90s as it took his record against the division’s two biggest names – Benn and Chris Eubank – to 4-0, with two victories each over the pair of them.

In beating Eubank in Millstreet in March 1995, Collins became a two-weight world champion – Carl Frampton is the only other Irish boxer to achieve such a feat – but although Eubank was the defending champion at that point, Collins admits Benn always caused him greater concern.

“The second fight against Benn, for me, was scarier than either of the Eubank fights or the first fight with Benn,” Collins told me in an interview last November.

“After retiring on his stool with an injured ankle in the first fight, Benn got a lot of stick, so when he came back he had a point to prove and was so determined.

“To me, that made him much more dangerous in the second fight, and I always feared Benn more than Eubank because of his punching power.

“Of all my fights, that second one with Benn was the scariest prospect. But I really dug down deep and trained so hard for that fight to make sure that it went my way and, in the end, I was probably in the best shape of my career.

“I always had this fear of Benn’s power because I knew we were going to have to stand and trade, and I was concerned I’d get tagged by him.”

Beaten comprehensively and consecutively by Collins, Benn called time on his career after that second fight, but his need for “closure” over 20 years later has been the driving force behind their agreed re-match, reportedly due to take place in October or November.

While Benn seeks closure for a career that had seemingly ended with three straight defeats, Collins admits his main motive for the rematch – income. "It's just about money, a payday which will allow me to buy some more land," he told BBC. Refreshingly honest, it’s what we all would have guessed, but he does have a farm to finance in St Albans after all.

April’s Fight of the Year contender between Anthony Joshua and Wladimir Klitschko had numerous question marks lingering over it in the pre-fight analysis. Can Klitshko still compete with the new generation aged 41? Can Anthony Joshua get up if he’s caught flush? Does Joshua have the engine to excel in the latter rounds? All this and more was answered on the night and that’s why it was such a success.

It doesn't deserve as much column inches, but Benn vs Collins III offers its own set of queries. Does Benn still carry enough power to hurt an opponent of a similar age? Does Collins still have that fear of Benn’s heavy hands? Can the safety of both men be guaranteed inside the ring? Styles make fights is the saying, but question marks make you tune in.

Collins vs Benn III is never going to be of box office appeal, but if a free-to-air broadcaster such as Channel 5 or Dave – both of whom have offered a free home to boxing over the past couple of years – take up a chance to broadcast the rematch, don’t pretend you’ll not be tempted to watch.