Nigel Benn back in the ring: 5 memorable boxing comebacks

Benn has not fought professionally since 1996.

By Press Association Published: 25 September 2019 - 2.56pm

Former world super-middleweight champion Nigel Benn is poised to make a boxing comeback of sorts at the age of 55.

Benn, who has not fought since his rematch defeat to Steve Collins in 1996, has been refused a licence by the British Boxing Board of Control – but will instead fight under the auspices of the British and Irish Boxing Authority (BIBA).

Here, the PA news agency picks out five previous boxing comebacks.

George Foreman

Foreman vs Roman
George Foreman returned to reclaim the world crown (PA)

Seemingly against everyone’s better judgement, Foreman returned to the ring after a 10-year absence in 1987. Twenty-four straight wins earned him a shot at world heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, and even after losing that fight he still carried on. Three years later, at the age of 45, Foreman was crowned his sport’s oldest world champion when he stopped Michael Moorer in Las Vegas.

Muhammad Ali

Boxing – Heavyweight – Cassius Clay v Henry Cooper
Muhammad Ali bowed out in the Bahamas (PA)

The master of boxing comebacks blotted his copybook by attempting one too many. Ali should have quit after claiming a revenge win over Leon Spinks in September 1978. Instead, two years later, he returned to find himself humbled by a tearful Larry Holmes – and still found time for a farcical finale against Trevor Berbick in the Bahamas in 1981.

Ricky Hatton

Ricky Hatton
Ricky Hatton’s career came to a painful end (Dave Thompson/PA)

Hatton’s comeback attempt proved particularly painful to watch. Three years after a crushing loss to Manny Pacquiao, Hatton began his comeback bid against little-known Vyecheslav Senchenko in front of his adoring Manchester supporters – and suffered a heavy knockout defeat in the ninth round.

Virgil Hill

Virgil Hill
Nigel Benn will look to follow the example of Virgil Hill (right) (Sean Dempsey/PA)

Former world light-heavyweight and cruiserweight world champion Virgil Hill was not content with ending his career on a loss in 2007. Eight years later, at the age of 51, Hill returned to knock out Jimmy Campbell in front of his home fans in Bismarck, North Dakota, before hanging up his gloves for good.

Jim Jeffries

Boxing – World Heavyweight Title – Jack Johnson v James J Jeffries – Reno, Nevada
Jim Jeffries lost the ‘Fight of the Century’ (PA Archive)

Jeffries retired on top after retaining his world heavyweight title over Jack Munroe in 1904. But six years later promoters and politicians were desperate to find a fighter who could beat the new brash, black champion Jack Johnson – and they thought Jeffries fitted the bill. He didn’t – he was stopped in the 15th round of the so-called ‘Fight of the Century’.