Ex-world champ Nigel Benn, 55, confirms return to boxing

London (AFP) –


British former world champion Nigel Benn has announced he will return to boxing for a one-off fight at the age of 55 in order to gain "closure" after struggling with drug abuse and depression earlier in his career.

Benn, who has not fought professionally since 1996, confirmed on Thursday that he will face 40-year-old Sakio Bika in Birmingham on November 23.

"It's been a long time coming," he told a press conference in London. "This fight is all about me. It wasn't financial, it was always about closure that I wanted that I never had.

"I suffered with a lot of issues in my life from a young age, from 1972 when my brother died -- the murder of my brother -- which I carried through to my adult life.

"At the age of eight, I started smoking cigarettes to 41, I started doing ecstasy, smoking spliffs all throughout my career, but suffered with depression.

"There's not one fight that I went through that I didn't suffer with. It was bugging me. I don't even think I was at my best, I don't know how I got that far."

Nicknamed the "Dark Destroyer", Benn claimed the WBO middleweight title in 1990 and held the WBC super-middleweight title from 1992 to 1996.

His most recent bout, a challenge for Irishman Steve Collins' WBO super-middleweight title, came almost 23 years ago and ended unsuccessfully following his retirement after six rounds.

"I was in a dark place for so many years," he continued.

"I was having suicidal thoughts, I didn't want to be where I was. I just want you to understand what I was going through.

"And then, in about 2008, I had an encounter with Jesus, that's when my life changed, truly changed: no spliffing, no ecstasy, no women, absolutely nothing."