This weekend’s big domestic punch-up between George Groves and Chris Eubank Jr beings back memories of another all British clash, the classic middleweight scrap from 1990, the first fight between Nigel Benn and Chris Eubank.
The NEC in Birmingham played host to one of the most savage fights ever seen in a British ring. Benn was making the 2nd defence of his WBO middleweight title against Eubank. Benn had rebuilt his career after suffering his 1st career loss at the hands of Michael Watson. Benn had gone to America to rebuild and had won the WBO title from Doug DeWitt and defended it against Iran Barkley, Benn had a record of 27-1 when he faced Eubank.
Eubank had started his pro career in the states before coming back to the UK and eventually signing with Barry Hearn. 24 straight wins earned Eubank his opportunity with his arch-rival. Eubank was eccentric, over the top and the sort of fighter you either loved or hated, Benn was the latter, the hatred between the pair was not manufactured, it was real.
The fight was more or less even right up to the conclusion, a back and forth war, each fighter having their moments, some of the exchanges were breath-taking in their ferocity. Eubank was dropped in the 8th, he argued it was a slip, but Richard Steele gave him a count regardless, but Benn was starting to fade.
Eubank was over again in the 9th, but this time it was ruled a slip. Eubank landed a right-left combination and that was the beginning of the end for Benn, Eubank got the TKO in the 9th to end one of the greatest fights ever seen on UK soil.
Barry McGuigan in commentary said it was the sort of fight that makes an old man out of you, he was right.
It was the first fight I ever placed a bet on, and to this day the only fight, I tipped Eubank out of interest.
The scores at the finish were:
Judge: John Stewart 76-75 Benn
Judge: Robert Balogh 75-76 Eubank
Judge: Dalby Shirley 76-75 Benn