Collins eyes Benn

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The Independent Online
FRANK WARREN will have to dig into his cash reserves if the presence of Nigel Benn at ringside at The Point last night is an indicator of his future plans. Benn was in town to watch Steve Collins retain his World Boxing Organisation super-middleweight title with a clear, if unimpressive, points win over Cornelius Carr of Middlesbrough.

Benn holds the World Boxing Council version of the championship, and it will cost considerably more to bring the pair together than Warren paid out last night. Benn and Collins are both famously difficult negotiators who cherish every pound they have earned in long and demanding careers, and they are each acutely aware of the value of a unification match.

Benn received a thunderous welcome from the fans when he was brought into the ring before the fight to receive a presentation, and the warmth of his reception may have persuaded him to come to Ireland for what would surely be one of the more difficult fights of his career.

"I have the utmost respect for Collins," Benn said. "He beat Chris Eubank twice, which I couldn't do, and he did it well. But I'll be happy to come here."

He was besieged by autograph hunters while the new James Bond, Pierce Brosnan, sat virtually ignored at his side. Irishmen can appreciate the difference between real fighters and celluloid heroes, though Collins' performance fell a long way short of the sharpness and authority of his two wins over Eubank.

The judges were unanimous in the Irishman's favour, with one score of 117-111 and two of 116-112, but it was a ragged, unconvincing performance, far removed from Collins' best.

Too much of his work was messy, sprawling and undirected, and against a man whose world-level experience was minimal he should have imposed himself on the fight much more than he did.

Carr fought to his limits, but they were soon reached. He was brave and durable, but apart from a nagging left jab and an occasional stiff right, he had little to trouble Collins. The champion was simply too strong, too experienced and too busy for him, and seemed an even clearer winner than the judges indicated. But Benn will not have seen anything in this performance to worry him unduly, and provided that the finances can be sorted out, a spring showdown in Dublin looks a distinct possibility.

There were no knock-downs, nor did either man inflict much in the way of significant damage. Carr fought from the third round with a cut between the eyes, presumably the result of one of the frequent head clashes, while Collins was grazed by the corner of his left eye at the start of the ninth round. But by that point, Carr had clearly settled for an honourable points defeat, and did not capitalise on that advantage.

l Billy Schwer of Luton lost his Commonwealth lightweight title to David Tettah of Ghana after the referee stopped the fight in the 12th round.