Boxing: Benn not so gentle on Gent: British public prepares for a rematch of super-middleweights

IT WENT exactly according to the script. Nigel Benn duly destroyed the hapless Lou Gent in four savage rounds to retain his World Boxing Council super-middleweight title on Saturday at London's Olympia, thus setting up a return with Chris Eubank on 9 October.

More significantly, Benn's display was greeted with enthusiasm by representatives from the American television station, ABC, who were broadcasting the fight live, and whose involvement is central to the funding of the unification series.

Eubank, the World Boxing Organisation champion, is an international unknown, a difficult act to sell Stateside. In contrast Benn is a guaranteed ratings grabber. The percentages to be accrued from the Benn-Eubank rematch, followed by subsequent engagements with James Toney, and Michael Nunn, the division's other claimants, must boggle even the accountancy-trained mind of the promoter, Barry Hearn.

Benn's rivals must have viewed his destruction of Gent with some concern. The performance confounded suggestions that he is losing his appetite for the game.

He had promised an all-out war and he delivered. Gent hit the canvas three times in the third round and twice in the fourth, helpless against the Benn bombardment. Admittedly, he fought back bravely, even managing to shake the champion on a couple of occasions.

'I had no power at all in my last three fights but now all my strength is back,' Benn said.' I'm probably better now than I've ever been.'

The knockdowns confirmed that Benn still packs a mighty wallop with both fists. Gent went down from combination shots, a left hook, and a withering right cross to the body. This was not the Benn of old, blasting away at random in the hope of hitting the mark. This was a skilled and thorough dismantling of a durable and potentially dangerous rival.

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