Nigel Benn has denied claims he was refused a boxing licence by the British Boxing Board of Control ahead of his controversial comeback at the age of 55.
The former two-weight world champion will return to the ring on November 23 against Sadio Bika under the auspices of the British and Irish Boxing Authority.
Benn insisted his comeback is motivated solely by a need for closure on a career which looked to have ended with defeat by Steve Collins 23 years ago.
The BBBoC said last month that they had told Benn he would not be granted a licence.
And the Londoner has now said: “I can confirm that I have made a formal application for a boxing licence with the British & Irish Boxing Authority. I refute the claims that I re-applied for a licence with any other accredited sanctioning body (as has been stated in the press).
|Therefore, I have not been refused a licence as alleged. It is my decision to box again (although may be seen by some as ‘controversial’). However, unlike many boxers, I have continued to maintain my fitness and healthy lifestyle since my last fight with Steve Collins.
“I acknowledge the risks associated with the sport, and fully understand the importance of being fully assessed by medical professionals. Therefore, I’ve welcomed the requirements of BIBA to clearly establish that I AM ‘fit to box’.
“I have undergone numerous and regular medical investigations to confirm this, including periodic MRI brain scans. Now that I’m in the UK, within the next few weeks I have welcomed (at the request of BIBA) a further series of tests – including another MRI brain scan to provide clear clarification of my state of health.
“BIBA are also facilitating additional safeguarding at ringside for my fight (which far exceeds the criteria of any other sanctioning organisation).
“My desire to box again is something that has remained within me for several years… It is MY choice alone, and I’ve not been persuaded or coerced by any other person.
“I feel like that I am being discriminated against because of my age. I can also confirm that I have chosen to fight an opponent who is a renowned former world champion in his own right. The challenge that I’ve set myself is high.
“This IS a tough challenge, but one that I feel I need to pursue to bring about final closure and an inner peace of mind for myself as a man. It’s NOT about the money, it’s about closing a desire that remains within my mind, body and soul.
“This is my dream, and I hope boxing fans around the world will embrace my wishes, and support and respect the fact that this is my decision alone.”