Someone commenting on my original post concerning the Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan world title fight from way back in 1995 indicated that a new documentary about the fight was going to be screened on ITV in December. I missed the screening on the 5th but have just watched it on ITV player (there are still 21 days left to watch the documentary – The Fight of Their Lives). The bloke who commented mentioned that the fight still sent shivers down his spine, well the documentary does an excellent job of doing that too.
It’s brilliantly put together and portrays the fight, the before and aftermath spectacularly well. The vicious damage the two fighters dished out on each other and the incredible turn around Benn managed still gets me out of my seat. As Frank Bruno says in the documentary the fight was completely absorbing and although he had Frank Warren and Don King on either side of him it could have been Mickey Mouse and Batman!
Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan – the build up
Nigel Benn vs Gerald McClellan came about as Benn was World Champion and McClellan was a devastating power puncher on the way up, at 31 Benn was supposed to keep away from such a difficult opponent. But Benn being Benn he didn’t avoid anything and instead took the challenge right on. Despite everyone saying he was going to lose, which he almost did, he went on to overcome the odds. To me it really is the most overwhelming example of underdog defying the odds. The French ref gave Benn a chance, more than once during the fight, as his trainer said, luck was on their side that night. In the first round, when knocked out of the ring Benn was given a long time to get back in, McClellan’s corner though he should’ve won at that point, which is a good point. However, with incredible grit and ferocious spirit Benn made it through to round ten.
Nigel Benn; born again
After boxing Benn partied and apparently attempted suicide. Going off the rails and associated struggles had a lot to do with the injuries that McClellan suffered that night. Benn needed forgiveness and even arranged a benefit dinner which McClellan and his sister, who cares for him, both attended. The scene in the documentary where the three of them meet after 12 years is intense and extremely moving. Both parties seem to have benefited from that and Benn is now a Christian which seems to have straightened him out.
Gerald McClellan still struggles today
McClellan has terrible injuries from the bloodclot on the brain that was removed. He needs care all the time and the pitiful amount of money he was paid for the fight is all gone. It’s shocking how little he was paid. King and Warren apparently gave the family much more than they were obliged to but he still struggles, there is a Gerald McClellan trust fund which helps to keep him going.
After this fight a boxing ban was apparently debated in parliament but refuted. As Barry McGuigan suggests boxing saves more lives than it takes, many more. This site has indicated this previously, what with the Astoria Boxing Club and the outdoor gyms in Sao Paulo giving people hope where there is very little. The appalling injuries could’ve been averted, according to the experts in the documentary, there were problems with the ref and with Gerald McClellan’s corner – Brendan Ingle’s opinion is very damning – if only he had kept Manny Stewart as trainer! But that is all history now, the fight was extraordinary, this documentary is a must see, so get to the ITV player and watch it!