Benn, 55, calls off return, citing shoulder injury

The comeback of British boxing legend Nigel Benn is off.

Benn, the 55-year-old former middleweight and super middleweight world titlist, announced at a news conference in London in late September that he would exit a 23-year retirement and return to the ring to face former super middleweight titlist Sakio Bika in a 10-round light heavyweight contest on Nov. 23 at Resorts World Arena in Birmingham, England.

However, on Monday, Benn called off a comeback that has been roundly criticized. He told the British newspaper The Sun that he suffered a shoulder injury last week during a training session for the bout, and when it did not respond to treatment he decided to call off the fight.

“There was no way I was going to con British fight fans, who have been so good to me, by fighting when I’m not 100 percent fit,” Benn told The Sun. “I never stopped training since the day I retired, and I’ve never felt fitter in my life. I have been dreaming of a one-off fight for years, and I’m heartbroken I have had to call it off. Maybe it’s a blessing in disguise. I’m now going to forget about ever fighting again.”

Benn (42-5-1, 35 KOs) had not had a fight since 1996 and was coming off three consecutive losses in super middleweight world title bouts. The British Boxing Board of Control would not license Benn for the comeback fight, so it was going to be regulated by the little-known British and Irish Boxing Authority. Even Bika (34-7-3, 22 KOs), of Australia, is 40 and would have been coming off a two-year layoff.

Benn’s son, 23-year-old Conor Benn (16-0, 11 KOs), is an up-and-coming welterweight who on Saturday knocked out Steve Jamoye in the fourth round on the undercard of Josh Taylor’s decision win over Regis Prograis to unify two junior welterweight world titles in the World Boxing Super Series final at the O2 Arena in London.

Nigel Benn said that rather than rescheduling his comeback fight, he would instead watch his son climb the rankings.

“I will sit back and enjoy watching my son Conor follow in my footsteps and become a world champion,” Benn told The Sun.