Boxing: Benn's belligerence holds key to defence of world title: Tonight's WBC super-middleweight bout promises to be a brief and brutal British affair. Nick Halling reports

Click to follow
The Independent Online
NIGEL BENN has always given the impression of being a man who fights for the hell of it, but financial imperatives will doubtless provide a powerful additional incentive when he defends the World Boxing Council super-middleweight title against his fellow-Londoner Lou Gent at Olympia tonight.

Victory will confirm Benn's involvement in the proposed super-middleweight unification series presently being constructed by the promoters, Barry Hearn and Don King, and which promises to make all its participants genuinely wealthy.

With a reported pounds 1m fee for a return engagement with his nemesis, Chris Eubank, scheduled for the autumn, Benn understands that any mishaps against Gent would have calamitous financial consequences. As a result, he has worked hard at his Tenerife gym, and appears to be in the correct physical and mental state for what promises to be a gruelling battle.

'There's going to be blood and guts in there,' the champion said. 'I always try to give the public what they want, and they're not looking for any U-certificate, they want X-rated stuff. That's what I'm going to give them for as long as I'm in boxing.'

Strong words, but completely in character from a man who cheerfully styles himself 'The Dark Destroyer', and whose reputation was built on an ability to bludgeon opponents into swift submission.

While the power of his early performances is seldom seen these days, and questions continue to be asked of his ability to absorb punishment, he has lost only twice in 38 appearances, and he possesses a rare ability to improve following defeat.

Gent, the 28-year-old WBC International champion, began his career at cruiserweight before slimming down to his natural division. He has mixed in good company and an early cuts loss to Glenn McCrory, who went on to become world cruiserweight champion, attests to his durability.

Like Benn, the Streatham man is no stylist, opting for raw aggression over finesse. His confidence is nourished by evidence that Benn's chin is not what it should be, a fact evident in the champion's last outing when he was horribly inconvenienced in the final seconds by the light-punching Italian Mauro Galvano.

However, Benn's two losses occurred after he had been worn down over a number of hard rounds. Gent will be forced to look for the one- punch finish, but it is probable that he will be on the receiving end of it well before the half-way stage.