Chris Eubank Sr and Nigel Benn shared the ring twice during the 1990s in what is considered the best domestic boxing rivalry the UK has ever offered.
The hatred was genuine, and the hype was not required, although it was gold to viewers. Both fighters could not be any more different from one another.
Chris Eubank once described the rivalry as: “It is like two minds which are miles apart, a street brain and a society brain.”
Eubank saw himself as the perfect gentleman, elegant and articulate, well-spoken, and socially superior to his opponent.
Benn was considered the bad-boy, representative of a tough upbringing and the more ‘street-styled fighter. However, Eubank’s interpretation of their differences could not be further from the truth.
Nigel Benn’s Story
Benn was brought up in a loving home in Essex, England. His life was derailed due to the death of an older brother, he was sent to the armed forces at the age of 18 and completed two tours of Northern Ireland during the troubles. Benn realised his boxing potential in the army, winning numerous titles while serving his country.
Chris Eubank’s Story
Eubank was born in South London, he had an impoverished upbringing and spent most of his early life living in Jamaica before returning to the UK at the age of six, where he went into the care system.
Eubank had a troubling education, often suspended, or expelled from school and was later sent to live with his mother in the tough South Bronx area of New York.
Eubank found his love of boxing in the Bronx, competing at the Jerome Boxing Club before traveling back to the UK where his career began to take off.
Roots of the Rivalry
Eubank called Benn out in the media, despite competing at a lower level than Benn. He would often make derogatory remarks about Benn and portray himself as socially superior to Benn.
Speaking on Eubank, Benn said: “What annoyed me most was the way he looked down his nose at everybody. He thought he was a different class.”
The Classic Interview
Ahead of their eagerly anticipated first fight, both fighters attended their contract signing.
Benn stated: “He’s all hype and I can’t wait to give him a good hiding. Now you’re with the big boys, I’m there already. He’s got to prove himself, not me.”
As Eubank began to respond by saying: “I came up the hard way,” Benn interrupted his competitor.
Eubank took offence to the interruption and in classic Eubank articulation, he declared: “You’ve had your time, Let’s have some parliamentary procedure here, alright?”
The line is iconic in the history of the rivalry and is considered one of the best lines ever used when hyping a fight.
Eubank vs Benn
The pair finally competed November 18, 1990, at the NEC in Birmingham.
The pair went to toe-to-toe in the early exchanges with both looking to deliver an early knockout.
Benn landed a solid hook on Eubank’s chin in the second round before Eubank responded, forcing Benn onto the ropes.
Eubank landed a few big shots on Benn in the following rounds and grew in confidence and arrogance. Benn had a visible swelling of the eye but managed to remain competitive before knocking his opponent to the canvas in the eighth round.
The fans sensed a Benn victory was imminent despite Eubank failing to acknowledge his opponent, claiming he had slipped.
‘Simply The Best’ Eubank delivered a series of lefts and rights in the ninth round, before landing a huge left on Benn. Benn tried to continue but the referee called an end to the fight, declaring Eubank the winner and new WBO middleweight crown, his first-ever world title.
Eubank vs Benn II
The second fight was not as good as the initial fight but the build-up to the fight delivered.
Eubank mocked his opponent saying: “I don’t mean to be impolite Nigel, but I’ve always thought you were a fraud.”
The Dark Destroyer responded: I ‘can’t stand his cocky nature.’
Both fighters were more conservative in their approach and cancelled each other. The final round saw both fighters going for the knockout for three minutes. However, the fight was declared a split-decision.
Where are they now?
Eubank and Benn have since buried the hatchet in their rivalry.
They were two great fighters but as a pair they were golden to watch.
Both fighters are still in the boxing game, assisting their sons Chris Eubank Jnr and Conor Benn in making their own history in the sport.