Boxing: Street-fighting men bring a whole new brawl game to central London

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The Independent Online
IT COULD have been a stunt but Michael Bentt (left, back to camera) still needs restraining as he brawls with Herbie Hide during yesterday's press conference to promote their fight at Millwall FC on 19 March. Hide (right, light jacket) then gets on top during their unscheduled bout at the Sheraton Park Tower Hotel in London. Bentt, the World Boxing Organisation heavyweight champion, admitted he threw blows at the 22-year-old challenger, more than two months before they fight for real. Hide, clearly shaken and with his shirt buttons torn away, pointed to a sore lip, claiming Bentt had struck him more than once.

Even the promoters, Barry Hearn and Bob Arum, looked shocked when the fracas erupted. The British Boxing Board of Control is to order an immediate inquiry, and its secretary, John Morris, said he would not tolerate a repeat when Bentt returns to this country on 1 March.

The trouble occured when Bentt posed for photographers wearing a Millwall FC baseball cap - and, according to witnesses, Hide knocked the hat off his head and the champion saw red. Hide said: 'Boxers should be like gentlemen, they should never fight outside the ring. It goes to show what hooligans we have in boxing. He's a nut, he can't take criticism, he hit me for no reason at all.

'He turned round and whacked me, I went in a puddle, but it was a fall more than the force of the blow. He should go back to where he came from.' Bentt, the Dulwich-born boxer who took the title from Tommy Morrison last year, replied: 'You don't get anything for fighting outside the ring, but he compromised my manhood. No man is going to lay his hands on me. I don't regret it, I'm a man first and a boxer second.'

Photographs: Peter Jay

(Photographs omitted)