PREVIEW: STEVE COLLINS - NIGEL BENN (WBO SUPER MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE) NYNEX ARENA, MANCHESTER 9 NOVEMBER, 1996 Following Nigel Benn's last fight in July I wrote that he should have retired permenantly. Next Saturday - November 9th - he fights Steve Collins again in Manchester. My reason for willing him to retire was not because I felt he would be beaten in a rematch with Collins or because I believe him to be a spent force (we can't assess whether he is a spent force yet). Benn had retired and come out of retirement following the loss of his long - held WBC title in March. He repeated this u - turn having lost his challenge to Collins in July - only this time he announced his comeback 15 minutes after his retirement. Although Benn lost to Collins in inconclusive fashion - Benn was forced to pull out due to a twisted ankle - it pained me to see him damaging his legacy by being so publicly indecisive. He also afforded the tabloid newspapers an opportunity to deride him for this second turnabout. Headlines like "Benn Behaving Sadly" (a play on the sitcom title "Men Behaving Badly") just don't do 'The Dark Destroyer' justice. So why does my mouth water at this rematch caused by the u - turn I condemned? Simple - Nigel Benn is a raw, gritty, pure value - for - money warrior and he is up against a man who is no mean slugger himself as Collins proved by beating Chris Eubank twice. As Collins said in the build - up to this match, "I have to beat them twice to prove I'm better than them." The difference however between this bout and his rematch with Eubank is that he beat Eubank clearly the first time. He beat Benn by default. Critics desperately tried to analyse the four rounds of their last fight - some saying Benn "bottled out", some saying Benn was winning the psycological battle and some saying Collins was on his way to victory and would have won anyway. All of this is irrelevant and would have been even without this rematch. The fact is that nobody will know who is the better man until both battle to a natural conclusion - which they should do on Saturday. Benn would have been easy to match against (then) WBC title holder Vincenzo Nardiello or WBA Champ Frankie Liles had he wished to take an easier route to a belt. The fact that he chose Collins again suggests that he noticed a chink in the Celtic armour in July. Benn will enter this fight exactly where he likes to be - with his back against the wall. He will receive by far the smaller purse, but has reportedly moved to compensate for this with a substantial wager on himself to win. Should he lose, it will be his third successive defeat, and the proud man will not be planning on this eventuallity. The build - up to this fight for Benn is similar in many respects to his run - up to the Mc Clellan war in February 1995, and this is why I pick him against the odds to fight out of his skin and to be WBO Champion by the time Tyson steps into the ring to meet Holyfield (on Sunday morning here). PREVIEW: NASEEM HAMED - REMIGIO MOLINA (WBO FEATHERWEIGHT TITLE) NYNEX ARENA, MANCHESTER 9 NOVEMBER, 1996 The fighter still known as Prince has had a lot of questions asked of him following his last two fights, and this is his chance to answer them. Although Molina has never mixed in World class before, he is unbeaten and all eyes will be on 'Naz' to see how he handles his latest challenger. Hamed rose to World Champion status sensationally, reminiscent of a certain Mike Tyson. He appeared to be unstoppable, bowling over opponents at a furious rate. This aura was damaged however when Daniel Alicea knocked him to the canvas in June. It was further sullied in August by Manuel Medina who gave the Prince all the trouble he could handle for eleven rounds. Critics are now saying that the Median fight was Hamed's real acid test at World class and that it exposed the Prince as a pretender to the crown. He has been said to have a weak chin and an inability to adjust his style when faced with awkward opponents. As he was suffering from a cold in the Medina encounter, Naz will need to be on top form on Saturday to re - establish his reputation. Argentinian Molina carries the reputation of being a tough, durable fighter but as he doesn't possess a solid punch he is unlikely to ruffle Naz's feathers. Expect his challenge to have failed before the bell tolls for round five. PREVIEW: RONALD WRIGHT - ENSLEY BINGHAM (WBO LIGHT MIDDLEWEIGHT TITLE) NYNEX ARENA, MANCHESTER 9 NOVEMBER, 1996 Ensley Bingham won't be short of support as he challenges for a World title in his hometown of Manchester. This chance has come late for 31 - year old Bingham, but many believe he can cause an upset. He has earned this title shot the hard way, beating Gilbert Jackson in January for the British Title following years of low - key bouts around the country. Last time out Bingham stopped Anthony Ivory - and in stopping him achieved what Simon Brown, Julio Cesar Vasquez, Carl Daniels and, most significantly, Ronald Wright had all failed to do. Wright is a slick boxer and his superior experience will make him favourite to retain his crown. I can't see him avoiding Bingham's damaging shots for 12 rounds however, and I expect Ensley to win by stoppage - probably in the second half of the fight. IRISH AND BRITISH BOXING NEWS CHRIS EUBANK ended his year - long retirement successfully on October 19 by stopping Argentinian LUIS BARERRA in five rounds of a light heavyweight contest. One cannot genuinely praise Eubank for beating a man suffering his fifth successive loss, but he does deserve credit for bravely promoting his own comeback show - in Cairo! WAYNE MC CULLOUGH will challenge Mexican DANIEL ZARAGOSA for the WBC super bantamweight title on January 11, 1997. He has yet to receive a TV date for his warm - up against DUKE MC KENZIE which was scheduled to happen last month. Mc Cullough's mooted clash with NASEEM HAMED looks less likey to happen as time goes on - Hamed refuses to box below 9st and Mc Cullough above 8st12lbs - even though the contract for the Mc Cullough - Mc Kenzie match stipulates 8st 12lbs "give or take a pound or two." HEROL GRAHAM who failed in World title attempts against MIKE MC CALLUM and JULIAN JACKSON in his prime, is making a comeback this month at the age of 37. This announcement was greeted with much scepticism in Britain, considering the Sheffield man's skill lay in his reflexes which are bound to have depleted with age. Liverpool's SHEA NEARY broke into World class on October 26 by beating DARRYL TYSON for the WBU light welterweight title. Although life is too complicated already to start recognising 'paper' organisations like the World Boxing Underminers, one can take nothing away from Neary who looked very impressive in soundly outpointing the vastly experienced Tyson. KEITH HOLMES proved me wrong (any surprised readers please refer to the above predictions for Nov.9th after the event) on October 19 by stopping England's RICHIE WOODHALL in the final round of their WBC middleweight title contest. Although all of the judges had Holmes well in front, none of the US commentators did. More significant however was the fact that Woodhall needed keyhole surgery on his right elbow twelve days before the fight. Having waited 18 months for this mandatory challenge, he refused to pull out and suffered his first loss. Ireland's heavyweight hope KEVIN MC BRIDE returns to the ring on Wednesday 6 November following 15 months of inactivity. He will fight Shane Woolas in Hull over six rounds. A dispute between Mc Bride, his trainer and his manager led to his inactivity, but the 23 - year old Clones man has stayed in shape. Mc Bride is undefeated in seventeen contests and is now trained by RICHIE GIACHETTI, who also trained LARRY HOLMES, OLIVER MC CALL and MIKE TYSON.
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